Tuesday, June 30, 2009

75-cent cigarette tax official

Governor Doyle signed the 2009-10 Wisconsin budget yesterday morning, which includes a 75-cent increase in the cigarette tax. The increase will boost Wisconsin's cigarette tax to $2.52 per pack, making it the 5th highest in the nation. For more information on the increase, check out our previous post.

The tax will go into effect on September 1, 2009.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Budget passes Assembly, headed for governor's desk Monday morning

On Friday night the State Assembly passed the budget, unchanged from the conference committee and Senate version, 51-46. (Democrats Bob Ziegelbauer and Peggy Krusick voted against, while independent Jeff Wood voted for; republicans Pat Strachota and Don Friske were absent.)

The governor is expected to sign the budget on Monday at 11 a.m. at the governor's residence.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Senate approves conference committee report with additional $5 million cut to tobacco prevention funding

The Senate just voted to approve the conference committee report - which means their vote includes the additional $5 million cut to tobacco prevention - now the budget goes back to the Assembly, which can't officially meet until about 8:30 p.m. tonight (Friday).

Senate vote count: 17-15
Republicans plus Sen. Sullivan (D-Wauwatosa) voted against.

Take Action: Call your state representative and ask him or her to restore the money that was pulled out of tobacco prevention in the conference committee budget. Look up your representative's contact information here.


Just got word that the conference committee on the state budget included an additional $5 million cut to the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program over the next biennium.

It seems some state legislators truly want to gut tobacco prevention efforts in Wisconsin.

If the cut goes through as proposed (representatives could vote as early as 8:30 p.m. Friday) Wisconsin will have a program operating on just 1/10th of the CDC's recommended budget.

State programs are being cut across the board, but more to the tune of 5%. We're talking about a 55% cut to tobacco prevention.

Call your state senator and state representative and tell them to restore the money the conference committee pulled out of tobacco prevention funding. Click here for your legislators' contact information.

You can view the Legislative Fiscal Bureau's analysis of the conference committee's budget version here (thanks to WisPolitics for posting this). Scroll to .pdf pages 63-64 (numbered in the document as pages 49-50) and look for #13: Tobacco Use Control Grants.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pres. Obama signs FDA legislation - watch the video!

Watch President Obama sign the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act below. (Video courtesy of C-SPAN.)

Obama to Sign FDA Tobacco Regulation Bill Today

President Obama will sign the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act this afternoon. The sweeping regulation will give the FDA broad new powers to regulate tobacco.

Check out our previous posts on the subject below.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Funny AND right

Once in a while we come across a piece that presents the smoke-free issue with a clever twist. Check out the Motley Cow's take on Wisconsin going smoke-free here.

Friday, June 12, 2009

FDA bill passes House, President will sign

Just a day after the Senate overwhelmingly approved a sweeping reform for tobacco regulation, the House of Representatives passed the Senate's version. With the White House firmly behind the measure, it should become law within days.

The vote, as it was in the House the first time, and in the Senate yesterday, was overwhelming: 307-97. Check out our blog post on yesterday's vote for more information on the bill.

President Obama has said he will sign the measure; Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Thursday that her agency is looking forward to implementing the bill.

Perspective: Legislation to allow the FDA to regulate tobacco was first introduced in 1996. Clinton was finishing his first term. Tobacco companies still advertised during Saturday morning cartoons, sponsored youth activities, and handed out free samples. California's smoking ban was still in the works. A smoke-free Wisconsin was pipe-dream.

Regulation's been a long time coming.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Senate approves FDA regulatory power for tobacco

On a broad bipartisan basis (79-17), the U.S. Senate voted this afternoon to grant regulatory power over tobacco to the Food and Drug Administration. The bill is a watershed moment in tobacco control history. Some products (like candy-flavored tobacco) will be banned. Tobacco industry marketing tactics will be curtailed. Expect to see drastic changes in how tobacco is marketed, labeled, and which new products enter the marketplace.

It's a great day for tobacco control, public health in Wisconsin, and in the U.S.

For more information on the bill, check out:

Going forward:

The House of Representatives passed a similar (but not identical) version of the bill in April; the House must now vote on the Senate's version, or enter conference committee to hammer out the differences. Following today's vote, Speaker Nancy Pelosi seemed optimistic that the Senate's version would pass the House. Once approved by both houses of the legislature, the bill will await only President Obama's approval. Obama has indicated that he will sign the bill.

An estimate produced by the Congressional Budget Office predicted that FDA regulation of tobacco could reduce underage smoking by 11 percent over the next decade.

A long time coming:

Health advocates have sought regulatory reform on tobacco for decades. Tobacco industry lobbyists, often with the vocal support of representatives from tobacco-producing states, have long stood in the way of reform efforts. President George W. Bush's administration also opposed reform and a 2000 Supreme Court ruling (5-4) found that the FDA did not have authority under current law to regulate tobacco products.

Happening now: Senate voting on FDA regulation of tobacco

The U.S. Senate will vote this afternoon on legislation which would grant the government control over the production and marketing of tobacco products. It's legislation many health advocates have waited 20 years for.

"It is a lifesaving act for the millions of children who will be spared a lifetime addiction and premature death," Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass said in a statement as quoted by the AP.

For more information, including the text of the bill, vote totals, and bill progress, check out OpenCongress.org's page on the bill.

If passed as written, the bill would have several key components:

  • Grant the FDA regulatory power over tobacco products
  • Ban the use of misleading expressions including "light" and "mild" from tobacco advertising
  • Compel tobacco companies to produce detailed lists of ingredients
With regulatory power, the FDA would have the power to ban candied or flavored tobacco products and restrict tobacco marketing. FDA regulation could also mean less tobacco ads in publications with teen readership, stronger warning labels, and pre-market approval of new tobacco products.

Health advocates have predicted that the legislation will reduce youth and adult smoking, and cut into the $100 billion in annual tobacco-related health care costs.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

WI Youth Wins National Award!

Kyle Picha of the Prairie du Chien FACT (Fighting Against Corporate Tobacco) group was named Central Region Youth Advocate of the Year at an awards gala on May 6th by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids for his leadership in the fight against tobacco. Kyle has been active with FACT for 4 years and is currently serving on the FACT Youth Board of Directors. FACT is WI's youth-driven tobacco prevention movement.

Since his involvement in FACT, Kyle has played an integral role in helping advocate for a statewide smoke-free law in Wisconsin, testified before the Joint Finance Committee in support of state tobacco prevention funding, and helped create an award-winning media advocacy campaign.

Congrats Kyle!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Congratulations Monona!

Monona is officially smoke-free as of this Monday June 1st!

Congratulations to all the advocates and members of Breathe Free Monona who worked tirelessly for clean air. We here at SmokeFree Wisconsin want to thank you for your hard work.

For more information on Breathe Free Monona please check out out their Web site.