Monday, May 31, 2010

WHO: World no tobacco day focuses on women

World No Tobacco Day is today, May 31st. This year is focusing on women. The goal is to draw attention to the fact that women are unfairly targeted and marketed to by the tobacco industry. In some countries women are the primary focus of advertising as the racketeers at Big Tobacco want to see more women smoking. While the world has nearly 1 billion smokers, only 20% of them are women. No one knows this more than the industry. The shift towards specifically marketing products to women and girls is all for the sake of profits!

The tobacco industry capitalizes of women's sense of independence and financial vitality. Especially in nations where the new sense of independence has been found, the tobacco industry is trying to tie that freedom to smoking and tobacco use.

The hope for World No Tobacco Day  is to also encourage the passed of the Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (FCTC). This document FCTC is  the first WHO treaty of its kind. It was negotiated to prevent and control tobacco use all across the globe. The US has failed to act on this treaty.

Here is what we can do in Wisconsin to protect women and girls from the dangerous marketing of tobacco:

Call on our policy-makers!

Ask them to:
    • Implement a comprehensive ban on all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, as called for in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
    • Implement a comprehensive ban on tobacco smoke in all public places and workplaces, likewise called for in the WHO Framework Convention.
    • Heed the call in the preamble of the WHO Framework Convention for "gender-specific tobacco control strategies" and the "full participation of women at all levels of [tobacco control] policy-making and implementation [of tobacco control measures]".
    • Request assistance from WHO to implement the demand-reduction provisions of the WHO Framework Convention through the MPOWER package of tobacco control measures.
    • Ensure that government agencies and other stakeholders work together to take into account the different needs of men and women.
    • Ensure that tobacco control strategies take into account the special problems of women who chew tobacco.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

40 Days and we want your picture!

Today marks 40 days until Wisconsin goes smoke-free! Can you believe it?

Are you excited about this law? Do you like taking pictures of your supportive friends?

Then our photo petition is for you! We are trying to reach a goal of 731 photos. One photo to represent each of the lives lost to secondhand smoke last year.

Are you ready to show-off you support for this law? GREAT!

Hop over to this website and download a sign to use in your photo.

Then send your picture to us using this email address!

Quick re-cap:
1. Download a sign
2. Take photos of yourself!  Click here to see an example. Click on the "photos" tab
3. Send your photos to us!
4. Jump for joy because Wisconsin is going smoke-free really, really, soon!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mass. moving forward with graphic in store warnings

According to the Boston Globe, Massachusetts is considering legislation that would require retailers to post large graphic warnings at the point of sale of tobacco products. This legislation would be the first of its kind in the nation. The new law would require all retailers to post graphic signs modeled after the New York Campaign to reduce tobacco use. First this idea has to clear the Public Health Council. The membership of this council is supportive of the measure. The law has a fine structure for businesses who fail to comply. Fines range from $100-300.

The hope with these signs is that smokers who are tempted to purchase just one more pack might make a different choice. The signs rely heavily on images, rather than words. Research indicates that these types of graphic warnings are more effective than plain text warning labels.

Like most tobacco control policies, opposition has arisen. Convenience stores who are concerned about dwindling tobacco revenue in their retail outlets will likely oppose this. The writers of this new policy would likely  welcome a decrease in tobacco revenue because it means fewer packs are being sold.

This proposal is part of the "Putting Prevention to Work" part of the stimulus bill.

The types of warnings being proposed can be viewed here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Michigan Bars Seeing Revenue Increases

Michigan, like Wisconsin, debated the smoke-free issue before finally acting  last year to go smoke-free. Much of the debate centered around a potential loss in revenue or the potential damage to small business. Despite the mounting evidence that smoke-free laws do not negatively impact businesses, legislators are still reluctant to believe the statistics.

Just weeks after Michigan went smoke-free they are already seeing increases in bar revenue. Bar owners are reluctant to speak out about their feelings about smoke-free laws because they want to please both smoking and non-smoking customers. Reports are coming in that in Michigan bars are seeing the faces of customers who have not been in for years. Some might have quit smoking and going into a smoking bar was too much temptation to resist. An owner of some restaurants as saying that they are seeing more families and the immediate increase was pretty dramatic.To read the rest of the story click here.

From all accounts it seems like our neighbors are enjoying the smoke-free air. Wisconsin will see the same types of increases once we go smoke-free. All those folks who have opted to go to smoke-free places or dine and drink at home will have the ability to go anywhere they please. If Michigan can adjust, so can Wisconsin.

Where are you looking forward to going once Wisconsin goes smoke-free?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Congrats to South Carolina!

Congratulations certainly are in order for the great state of South Carolina! Both houses of the legislature passed by a majority a cigarette tax. Once the bill headed towards the desk of the Gov. Mark Sanford he vetoed it. Despite this hurdle, the legislature voted to override this veto. South Carolina had a cigarette tax of just $.07 prior to the passage of this measure. The measure raised the cigarette tax to $.57. Even with this increase South Carolina still ranks in the bottom 10 when it comes to the rate of cigarette taxes.

This was an incredible hurdle for the South Carolina, a strong tobacco state. This tough economy paired with the desire to improve public health finally pushed lawmakers to the brink of passage. Legislators found that increasing the cigarette tax will save lives and save money in health care costs. Congratulations!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Smoke-Free News Round-Up

Over the weekend there was a great deal of coverage about the smoke-free issue. Below is a round up of some of those stories:

Wisconsin Public Television

Wisconsin Public Radio 


Appleton Post Crescent

Sheboygan Press

Wisconsin State Journal

What do you think about the new smoke-free air law? Want to share your thoughts with your local newspaper?
Click here to write a letter to editor about the new law! 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Tobacco Control State Highlights

Tobacco Control State Highlights 2010 Widget. Flash Player 9 is required. Tobacco Control State Highlights 2010 Widget. Flash Player 9 is required.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Secretary Sebelius Announcement

Earlier this week the US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary announced that combating tobacco use is a top strategic priority. She cites that significant progress had been made to reduce and eliminate the burden of tobacco for many decades. However, the sharp decline in smoking rates has become stagnant in some parts of the nation. Sec. Sebelius points to comprehensive, sustainable, and accountable tobacco control efforts which are based on evidence and best practice to help further reduce the burden of tobacco in our nation. In light of this statement she has outlined the following priorities:

  1. Strengthen the Implementation of Evidence-based Tobacco Control Interventions and Policies in States and Communities
  2. Change Social Norms Around Tobacco Use
  3. Accelerate Research to Expand the Science Base and Monitor Progress
  4. Leverage HHS Systems and Resources to Create a Society Free of Tobacco-related Disease and Death

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

New Study: Big Alcohol's influence in WI

Arguably the alcohol industry has been successful in their work at the capital. They ensured that Wisconsin remains the only state with the first offense of drunk driving being a mere traffic violation. They successfully defeated a beer tax. Also, they fought for the exemption and pre-emption of outdoor smoking areas and fought for untested definitions to be included in the smoke-free workplaces law. There is model language that has worked in Minnesota, Illinois, and Iowa. The Wisconsin State Legislature decided to create new, untested definitions as part of a compromise with Big Alcohol and Big Tobacco. From our perspective Big Alcohol paired with Big Tobacco ensured that their interests were served well through the smoke-free workplaces legislation.
The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign released a new study this week which examined the amount of money that legislators and partisan campaign committees received from Big Alcohol this past legislative session. The report concluded that the alcohol industry constitutes the third largest "special interest" in Wisconsin politics.
Why you might ask is an organization like SmokeFree Wisconsin concerned about the money from Big Alcohol?
Glad you asked! There are a few important reasons why Big Alcohol's financial and political influence of legislators directly effects the work that we do here at SFW.
Taverns along with manufacturers, distributors, and retailers all contributed significant dollars to the total spending by the alcohol industry ($409,000 in 2008/09 alone).Taverns are an important group of financial contributers to legislators because of the consideration of a statewide smoke-free workplaces law, tougher drunk driving penalties, and the beer tax-- all considered this past legislative session.
Michelle's 19th Birthday : Intercontinental Hotel. Mini liquor bottles in the fridge. by Sukianto.The largest individual recipients of Big Alcohol's money were all legislators who voted against common sense protections from secondhand smoke. Representative Davis (received $13,000), Senator Vinehout ($5,629), Senator Fitzgerald ($4,950), and Representative Fitzgerald ($3,700) all voted NO to protecting workers from secondhand smoke in Wisconsin Taverns. Is it possible that this kind of money doesn't buy influence?
To read the full release on this recent study visit:

Monday, May 10, 2010

60 Launch Media Coverage

It seems smoke-free air supporters were not the only ones excited about Wisconsin going smoke-free in July. Members of the news media were also excited and featured our celebration events.

Click the links below to see the stories:

Eau Claire Story                    Eau Claire Video 

Green Bay Story

Milwaukee Media also covered the story but we were not able to obtain links to their coverage.

Also a story is pending with the McFarland Thistle.

Thanks to all who attended!

A great showing of support for this law!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Looking at Tobacco Through a Microscope: FDA Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee

CAMEL (TM) Tobacco Flakes 10X by spike55151.
Photo Credit: spike55151CAMEL (TM) Tobacco Flakes 10X

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act or FDA regulation of tobacco (or authority over tobacco) requires that a scientific advisory committee is set-up to investigate a number of issues related to tobacco. The Scientific Advisory Committee is perhaps one of the more controversial elements of the FDA regulations, both from public health, but also from Big Tobacco. This committee is charged with investigating the following areas:

  • The impact of the use of menthol in cigarettes on the public health, including such use among children, African Americans, Latinos, and other racial and ethnic minorities
  • The nature and impact of the use of dissolvable tobacco products on the public health, including such use on children
  • The effects of the alteration of nicotine yields from tobacco products and whether there is a threshold level below which nicotine yields do not produce dependence on the tobacco product involved
  • Any application submitted by a manufacturer for a modified risk tobacco product
The first three tasks are fairly straightforward and are certainly hot button issues in tobacco control right now. The last area of inquiry is more broad and delves into the recent trend that the industry has made in creating "reduced harm products." The application for modified risk could be something like the use of the word "light." The committee must find that the product does indeed carry less risk in order to use words which previously could simply be applied without any scientific backing. 

Just last week the FDA denied a request from Phillip Morris (Altria, Inc.) to remove certain panelists due to financial conflicts and "irreconcilable biases." Admittedly Big Tobacco requesting the removal of certain "biased" scientists is ironic given there will also be three tobacco industry representatives. Are industry representatives not biased?

At any rate, Altria was concerned about the appointment of Neal Benowitz, Gregory Connolly, Jack Henningfield and Jonathan Samet. Some concerns raised were related to panelists being paid for expert witness testimony in tobacco related litigation, or potential ties to pharmaceutical companies. 
While tobacco industry representatives will be non-voting, according the the FDA's own FAQ about this advisory committee, it is common to have industry representatives present on these types of committees. 

To learn more about the group of scientists brought together by the FDA to explore the issues outlined above click here. 

To learn more about the committee and its roles click here

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Big...Bold.... WARNINGS

One significant change that you will see in tobacco product ads next month will be in the size and placement of warning labels. You probably remember joking with friends about the size of the current warning labels. It's likely that you joked at the absurdity of these tiny labels, off in the corner, that you have to get a magnifying glass out just to read. The image on the left shows the old way of giving warnings. Yes, it is there, but is it effective?
Looking at the image on the right, the joke about the warning is not as funny any more. This is a serious, substantial warning that is going to let people look beyond the colorful branding and the "freedom" Camel Snus is selling in their ads. The new ads must take up 20% of the ad.
While the warning labels say almost exactly the same thing (the only difference is "may" in the before warning label and "can" in the after warning label) the delivery of their message is entirely different. The label on the left is something people will take notice of and not just brush off like the old labels, at least according to some people. While this might not seem as first glance to be a wildly significant change, if it deters even 100 youth from picking up this product, that is worth it! That is 100 less youth who face a lifetime of addiction and the painful consequences of tobacco related disease.

There will be four different warnings including:

  1. This product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes
  2. This product can cause mouth cancer
  3. This product can cause gum disease and tooth loss
  4. Smokeless tobacco is addictive (a new warning)
Some researchers do not feel that these advertisements go far enough. There is that 80% of the ad that can still influence people. Take a look below at a mail piece we received in February promoting a special price on Camel Snus. 

Camel Snus can go to the club and never miss a beat. The implication here is that you can dance the night away with Snus in your mouth and never have to go out for a cigarette and miss you favorite song. Even with 20% coverage from a new, bolder warning the question remains if that will be enough to deter people. Will they still want to "Break-Free?" Or "Take a Bold Step?"

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Spotlight: FDA Provisions effective in June

As part of the compromise brokered between health advocates and Big Tobacco, certain elements of the FDA Regulation of Tobacco had phase in periods. Starting June 22 this year a number of different regulations will go into effect. 

As previously discussed on our blog terms like "light," "mild," and  "low" are prohibited from packaging.

Other provisions include:
  • Larger, stronger warnings on smokeless tobacco product packaging and advertisements.   
  • The removal of vending machines in facilities where youth under 18 are present. Vending machines would still be allowable in businesses which cater to adults only. 
  • Product branded t-shirts, hats, and other swag are prohibited from being sold along with a tobacco product- say good bye to packs of Marlboro with a free T-shirt!
  • Cigarettes may not be sold in packages fewer than 20. (Smaller packages are rare, now they will be completely eliminated.)
  • All advertising for both cigarettes and smokeless products must be in plain black text on a white background. Magazine ads must be placed in  publications with fewer than 2 million youth readers.  
  • Commercials for tobacco will change too- they can only be spoken words no music or jingles. Adult only facilities may allow audio ads with jingles or the like. 
  • No billboards or other outdoor advertisements are permitted within 1000 feet of schools, parks or playgrounds. 
  • Sponsoring cultural and athletic events is a thing of the past as well. No smokeless at the rodeo and no Phillip Morris at the baseball game. 
  • No free samples of tobacco, except smokeless in adult-only venues which meet certain restrictions. 

Over the next few days check back on our blog to learn a little bit more about some of these provisions. Tobacco control waited a long time to finally rein in Big Tobacco in more meaningful ways. Despite compromises and delays this is a landmark piece of legislation which will ultimately reduce the burden of tobacco for generations to come. It looks like the hammer has finally dropped on Big Tobacco. 

Monday, May 3, 2010

Congrats to Michigan!

Starting May 1st, Michigan went smoke-free! All bars, restaurants, and other workplaces went smoke-free.

Michigan's smoke-free is considered comprehensive because it includes all workplaces like offices or manufacturing facilities but also restaurants and bars.

There are some standard exemptions like for cigar bars, tobacco retailers, the gaming floor of certain state-run casinos.

Some great earned media efforts from across the state:

Great work to the all the advocates in Michigan. Your work will make an impact on the future generations!

Let the countdown begin!

60 DAYS.......

Thursday, May 6th marks the 60 days to until the smoke-free air law goes into effect. That's right a smoke-free Wisconsin is only 60 days away by the end of this week. The long wait for Wisconsin to join the 27 other states that have gone smoke-free is just around the corner. To celebrate the big 60 day mark we are going to be hosting a number of events around the state.

We hope that you can join us at one of the following locations for a meet and greet with other supporters of this law. Check out our countdown clock here. 

The Campus Pub
1110 West Campus Drive
The Bar
606 Lime Kiln Road
Green Bay          
The Lodge
1200 West River Street
Chippewa Falls
Nomad World Pub
1401 E. Brady St.
Spartan Pizza
5813 Main St
McFarland (Madison area)