Monday, August 27, 2012

Smoke-Free Air Encouraging Healthier Wisconsin Homes, Workplaces

Today an encouraging new study was published in the Wisconsin Medical Journal showing the success of the smoke-free air law in decreasing secondhand  smoke exposure.

The study, which was conducted by University of Wisconsin Medicine and Public Health researchers,  showed that there was a significant decrease in second hand smoke exposure inside, outside, and at work.

The study also found that since the smoke-free air act went into effect in July 2010, residents have become more likely to adopt a smoke-free policy in their own homes.

This report clearly shows that because of the smoke-free air law, residents across the state are able to breathe smoke-free air at home and work. That is great news for our families and children.

It’s tremendously encouraging to see that people are such great fans of smoke-free air that they are setting smoke-free policies in their own homes.

The smoke free air law allows all workers and patrons to be protected from the well- known, cancer-causing chemicals in secondhand smoke by ensuring that all Wisconsin workplaces, including restaurants and bars, are smoke free.

Specifically, the report shows that since the Smoke-Free Air law went into place:
  • The percentage of residents exposed to smoke outside the home declined from 55% to 32%
  • The percentage of residents exposed to smoke at home declined from 13% to 7%
  • The percentage of residents with non-smoking policies in their households rose from 74% to 80%.

This study is not the only report that has shown the great success of the smoke-free air law. Previous studies and surveys have shown that the smoke-free air law has greatly increased the health of Wisconsinites, including Wisconsin’s bartenders. This report builds on the growing amount of evidence of the health benefits of the smoke-free air law and  underscores the importance of ensuring that all Wisconsin residents  are able to choose to live in smoke-free housing.

The success of smoke-free air is an important step in promoting a healthier Wisconsin. 

But much work remains. Tobacco is still the leading cause of preventable death in Wisconsin. Nearly 8,000 people die each year from tobacco-related illnesses, and health care costs and lost productivity total $4.5 billion a year in Wisconsin. Smoke-free air is helping to turn these statistics around and we will continue to work together to reduce the burden of tobacco and promote the health of all people in Wisconsin.  

We look forward to seeing the continued health benefits of smoke-free air for the people of Wisconsin and our future generations.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Join the Movement to Transform Wisconsin

The tremendous burdens of obesity and tobacco on our state are well-known. Earlier this week, the CDC released new data showing that more than a quarter (27.7%) of Wisconsinites are obese, and the national costs related to obesity are staggering. A separate study released this week underscored the importance of promoting smoke-free living, reporting that nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke outdoors experience significant, lingering health effects.

By joining the Transform Wisconsin movement, you have an opportunity to do something to reverse these trends and improve the health of your community.

Transform Wisconsin is a new statewide effort that seeks to improve the health of our communities.  It is founded on the idea that health doesn’t happen in the doctor’s office – it happens where we live, work, and play.

At its core, Transform Wisconsin is about solutions.

In late July, the Transform Wisconsin Coalition awarded 30 grants, totaling $6.6 million over the next 26 months, to diverse community organizations across the state. Transform Wisconsin Coalition leaders, local grantees and community members gathered to announce the news at American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison, Stoney Acres Farm in Athens (near Wausau), Emerson Elementary School in La Crosse, the North Beach Gazebo in Racine, and the Eastside YMCA in Green Bay. 

Twenty-four communities are receiving an Impact Grant, which will focus on one of three key areas: expanding smoke free environments to include apartment buildings, strengthening farm to school programs so Wisconsin students have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, or increasing physical activity for kids by promoting and implementing open gyms between schools and community agencies. 

In addition, six communities are receiving a Transform Wisconsin Grant, which will focus efforts on all three key areas. In total, the projects will reach over 2.6 million people in Wisconsin, or about half of the state’s population. 

Transform Wisconsin is an unprecedented opportunity for individuals and communities to come together to improve health through innovative and effective local policies.

We all agree we want our kids to be safe and healthy. Together, we can – and we will – transform Wisconsin to a place where kids eat fresh, local fruits and vegetables at school; community members use schools for physical activity; and everyone has an opportunity to live in smoke-free housing.

Through Transform Wisconsin, communities across the state will improve health by making it easier for all residents to make healthy choices.

Everyone has a role in solving obesity and preventing chronic diseases. We invite doctors, teachers, farmers, and people in communities across the state to come together to find solutions that work for Wisconsin.

We need you to join the Transform Wisconsin movement! Visit today and sign up to receive updates or volunteer for a project in your community.  

Friday, May 4, 2012

You Can Help Transform Wisconsin

Earlier this week, we launched Transform Wisconsin – an exciting effort to help Wisconsin communities become healthier.

Every person in Wisconsin has the right to breathe smoke-free air and have a healthy and safe place to live, work and play. The bottom line is that living in healthy communities makes it is easier for everyone to make healthier choices, like eating more fruits and vegetables and being more physically active.

To move us toward healthier communities, Transform Wisconsin is offering competitive grants to non-profit and local government groups seeking to promote active communities, smoke-free living and access to fresh, local foods.

Transform Wisconsin will bring together parents, farmers, landlords, schools – and people like you – to find innovative solutions to improve the health and quality of life in communities across the state.

From May 1-June 15, local governments and non-profit organizations can apply to receive Transform Wisconsin grants. Potential applicants can also sign up and participate in a webinar on Tuesday, May 8th at 10am to learn more about the grant application process.

Transform Wisconsin is built on the idea that when we invest in communities, we invest in health and make lives better. We have a tremendous opportunity to make the kinds of changes now that will benefit our health for generations to come.

Want to join the movement? Follow TransformWI on Facebook and Twitter and be sure to visit the website for updates and the opportunity to vote for your favorite project proposals in the coming weeks.

Together, we can Transform Wisconsin into a place where everyone can access fresh fruits and vegetables, breathe smoke free air, and have safe places to play.

That will be a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Big Tobacco CEOs and their Big Payday

We all know that Big Tobacco companies are big spenders.

While many states including Wisconsin have been making significant budget cuts to tobacco prevention and control programs, Big Tobacco continues to spend big money to lure new customers and keep their current ones.

Big Tobacco spends more than $1 million an hour to market their products in the U.S. – including $233 million a year on advertising in Wisconsin.

The financial payoff for running a Big Tobacco company and peddling its deadly products is also huge. In 2011, the three men at the helms of Big Tobacco in the U.S. had combined salaries of nearly $32 million.

Last year, Lorillard Inc. CEO Murray Kessler made $13 millionAltria Group CEO Michael E. Szymanczyk made $10.2 million and Reynolds American chief Daniel M. Delen made $8.5 million.

The salaries are as staggering as Big Tobacco’s destructive effects on human health.

Only New York, Florida and California spend more than $32 million a year on tobacco prevention – while 47 states and the District of Columbia spend less. 

If $32 million were put toward tobacco prevention budgets, we could double every single tobacco prevention budget in 16 states: Missouri, Tennessee, Rhode Island, Washington, Idaho, Kansas, New Jersey, Michigan, Georgia, Kentucky, Nebraska, Iowa, Vermont, South Dakota, Massachusetts and Maryland.  

Wisconsin spends $5.3 million a year on our state tobacco prevention and control program. If we invested those Big Tobacco salaries in Wisconsin, we would increase our state prevention funding by seven times. That would bring us closer to the $64 million a year the CDC recommends Wisconsin spend on tobacco prevention programs. 

The battle with Big Tobacco is far from over. Smoking kills nearly 8,000 people a year in Wisconsin and is the leading preventable cause of death. Two young smokers replace every person who dies of smoking each year and tobacco use has created a pediatric epidemic in the U.S.

We know we have a steep uphill battle. We can – we must – and we will – continue to fight against the Big Spending of Big Tobacco. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Kicking Butts and Helping Kids Stay Tobacco-Free

Happy Kick Butts Day!

Today – and every day – youth across Wisconsin are working hard to expose and counteract the deadly tactics of the tobacco industry. These young people know that Big Tobacco is targeting them to become lifetime customers. They also know that it is essential to talk peer-to-peer about the importance of being tobacco-free.

It is incredibly inspiring to see young people fight back against Big Tobacco. It’s also critical to the health of their generation.

Recently the U.S. Surgeon General released a report on youth and tobacco. The report concluded that our progress in lowering rates of tobacco use has stalled.

The report included a lot of daunting facts about youth tobacco use. Here are three:
  • The younger a person is when they start using tobacco, the more likely that person will be addicted.
  • Nearly 90% of smokers start before age 18 and 99% start before age 26.
  • We have a staggering replacement rate – every person who dies from smoking-related causes is replaced by two new, young smokers. 

In short, we are facing a pediatric epidemic.

In Wisconsin, tobacco companies spend $233 million a year marketing their deadly products, which blows away the $5.3 million we spend on the state’s tobacco prevention and control program each year. From colorful packaging and onscreen smoking in children’s movies to candy-flavored mini-cigars and smokeless tobacco that looks like breath mints, it is clear that tobacco corporations are finding creative ways to reach young customers.

To counter the $1 million an hour that tobacco spends marketing their deadly products in the U.S., last Thursday the CDC launched its first-ever national advertising campaign encouraging people to quit smoking. The hard-hitting campaign, “Tips from a Former Smoker,” features real people who are suffering from life-altering health problems and major diseases as a result of tobacco use.

The campaign highlights that tobacco is not only the leading preventable cause of death (killing nearly 8,000 a year in Wisconsin alone) – it also leads to serious long-term suffering. The “Tips from a Former Smoker” ads hit the airwaves this week in communities across Wisconsin. You can view the compelling ads here

We know what works in the fight against tobacco – higher tobacco taxes, well-funded tobacco prevention programs, and strong smoke-free laws. We also know that reducing tobacco use will save lives and help our businesses, families and state save money. Let’s use Kick Butts Day as an opportunity to re-dedicate ourselves to protecting our kids from Big Tobacco.

Join our youth today in telling tobacco companies to stop targeting our kids and encourage your communities and leaders to take a stand against Big Tobacco.

Click here for a list of Kick Butts Day events in Wisconsin.