The Wausau Daily Herald has a great editorial in their paper today about smoke-free fans looking for a place to watch the Packers vs. Cowboys game. It's not very long - you can read it here.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Dr. Mike Fiore of the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention will appear on the Larry Meiller program on Wisconsin Public Radio today from 11:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
You can log on and listen online at http://www.wpr.org/webcasting/live.cfm Click on one of the Ideas Network players on the right side of that page.
Dr. Fiore will be talking about tobacco dependence use and treatment, particularly timely with a tobacco tax increase going into effect on Jan. 1.
If you want to call in, the numbers are: 800-642-1234 or 263-1890 in Madison.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Thanks to Jeff for his guest post!
Dear Editor: When I read that Russ Decker, Wisconsin's new Senate majority leader, said that he hopes to revive the Healthy Wisconsin health care proposal, it made me scratch my head. In an earlier article, he was reluctant to back a statewide smoking ban.
How can anyone be for any health care plan, but not back a statewide smoking ban for Wisconsin? The two go hand in hand. One of the easiest ways to improve the health of people is to implement a complete smoking ban for indoor work areas, including bars and restaurants.
Last year, researchers at the UW Comprehensive Cancer Center released a study surveying 400 bartenders before and after Madison's smoking ban went into effect. Respiratory symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath and coughing were cut by 40 percent.
There are economic benefits to smoking bans as well. According to the Madison Alcohol License Review Committee, in the two years after Madison's ban went into effect, the number of liquor licenses increased from 332 in 2005 to 356 in August 2007.
Yes, there were 13 tavern closures, but according to a statement released by the Dane County Division of Public Health last March, lease issues, retirement of owners and law enforcement violations were also factors. In fact, of the 13 taverns, 10 have reopened under new management with new alcohol licenses.
Even the Wisconsin Restaurant Association supports a statewide smoking ban. This would make a level playing field for the entire state, especially since Minnesota and Illinois have passed smoking bans.
It's time for the state Legislature to listen to the two-thirds of our population that favor a complete smoking ban in Wisconsin and pass Senate Bill 150.
Jeff Larson is a resident of Middleton. His Letter to the Editor was published in the Capital Times on November 19, 2007.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
I find these studies very interesting because heart problems run in my family. I'm so glad that my sister, who lives in New York, is safer because of that state's comprehensive smoke-free policy. Now IT'S TIME to protect non-smokers all across Wisconsin!
Friday, November 16, 2007
Yesterday we celebrated 99,000 lives saved in Wisconsin from the increased cigarette tax and program funding in the budget. The Great American Smoke Out also gave us the opportunity to turn the attention back to the proposed smoke-free air bill.
This beautiful display at the capitol says it all. Thanks for the picture Luke!
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Quitting smoking is tough. If you have ever been close to someone who has tried to quit, you know what I am talking about. Today, November 15th, marks the annual American Cancer Society Great American Smoke Out, a day to take a break from smoking and hopefully love the way it feels to be smoke-free. To successfully quit smoking it's important to offer love, support and patience. Breaking free from the grips of tobacco addiction is one of the hardest things to do, but there is help. If you or a loved one is interested in quitting smoking please call the Wisconsin Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW. You can also visit www.cancer.org for more information on resources to help you quit smoking.
Lisa Davidson works in Field Government Relations for the Midwest Division of the American Cancer Society.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Today Sen. Robson introduced a bill that would require cigarettes sold in Wisconsin to be self-extinguishing if left unattended. 22 states already have similar legislation, including Minnesota and Illinois. Wispolitics noted that Wisconsin fire chiefs joined Sen. Robson as she made the announcement today (cigarettes are the leading cause of fatal fires in WI).
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Q: How is Wisconsin's Tobacco Prevention and Control Program (TPCP) funded in this budget?
A: From General Purpose Revenue (GPR), the big pot of money that most programs are funded from. The TPCP is not funded by earmarked money.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Q: Where is the money from the cigarette tax going?
*This answer was rewritten on 11/9/07 after it was called to my attention that I had used an old version of the budget as a reference. Thank you Tony!*
A: It's clear as mud. Here's what Governor Doyle's memo to the Senate regarding the signed budget says: "This revenue increase [in the cigarette tax] generates over $400 million in revenue in support of the state's Medicaid program and will ultimately lead to improved public health through reduced tobacco use." (you can read this quote at the very top of pg. 4 of this document)
I went back to the actual budget document and had a harder time making this connection. I'm not exactly trained to read budget documents though. You can view the language regarding the cigarette and other tobacco products tax increases on pgs. 523-524 (starting with Section 2781 and finishing with Section 2840 d). After staring at these two pages for a few minutes, I figured out that "177 mills" apparently means $1.77. So, good luck - you're on your own for this one!
The main thing I took away from this is that the governor has said (in writing) that the tobacco tax revenue will be going toward Medicaid expenses. If any of our readers have additional insight, please share!
Friday, November 2, 2007
Q: Are you disappointed that the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program (TPCP) only received a $5 million per year increase?
A: Of course. Wisconsin's TPCP is still incomplete, and valuable elements of the program will continue to go unfunded during this budget biennium. Given the intense disagreements between lawmakers regarding this budget, however, we were lucky to see an increase in program funding at all.
Our work isn't done. Keep your eyes open for a blog post soon about the new recommended funding level for WI's TPCP just released by the CDC.
Q: What about cigars?
A: Unfortunately, cigars were afforded special treatment in the budget. The budget specifies that no cigar can be taxed more than
Q: Were there any tobacco-related partial vetoes in the budget?
A: Yes. These guys (see picture) wanted an exemption from being taxed. Eeewww. This stuff is so creepy... I should have done this post on Halloween. Smokeless tobacco products classified as "moist snuff" actually received an exemption from being taxed in the budget that was passed by the legislature. Thankfully, Gov. Doyle used his veto pen to remove this exemption from the budget he signed. By partially vetoing this exemption, no tobacco product will be exempt from being taxed in Wisconsin.
You can read Gov. Doyle's veto message on this item here: http://www.doa.state.wi.us/docview.asp?docid=6531&locid=3. Scroll to the bottom of pg. 40 of the .pdf to read his comments (only 3 sentences).
Q: How were tobacco products (other than cigarettes) treated under the tobacco tax increase?
A: Other tobacco products (OTP) like spit and snuff will be taxed on a weight-based system. SFW didn't support this method in the budget. We asked the legislature to tax OTP on a percentage-of-wholesale price basis.
Am I surprised that weight-based taxation made its way into the final version of the budget? Nope. Why am I not surprised? Well, the smokeless tobacco company who stands to benefit the most from this system hired 6 lobbyists in Wisconsin to work for this special treatment.
Here's what's wrong with weight-based taxation of OTP:
- Smokeless tobacco brands can manipulate their weight vs. nicotine delivery ratios to minimize the tax on their products, thereby reducing and destabilizing the amount of revenue generated from the tax
- By effectively reducing the prices of lighter weight (and currently best-selling) smokeless products through lower taxes, which are also the smokeless products most popular with youth, this tax change would promote even higher levels of smokeless tobacco use by kids
- Talk about a new bureaucracy - all OTPs are not created equal - in order to be applied equitably, each different type and sub-type of tobacco product will have to have its own tax rate that takes into account its relative weight per unit of nicotine delivered - that also means that a new rate-to-weight ratio will need to be developed every time a new smokeless product comes onto the scene
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Newly elected Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker appointed two new members to the Joint Finance Committee today and moved Sen. Mark Miller to the chair position. Senators Judy Robson and Julie Lassa will now be serving on the committee. Sen. Bob Jauch is leaving the committee to head up a new committee called Tax Fairness and Family Prosperity.