Letter: Youth tobacco use ‘scary’The findings in the new Surgeon General’s report on youth tobacco use are scary — especially that nearly one in five high school-aged teens smoke. While teen smoking rates have been decreasing over the last decade, that drop is leveling off in the U.S.
By: Karen Humphrey, Hudson, Hudson Star-Observer
The findings in the new Surgeon General’s report on youth tobacco use are scary — especially that nearly one in five high school-aged teens smoke. While teen smoking rates have been decreasing over the last decade, that drop is leveling off in the U.S.
Fortunately, the report lays out effective ways to reduce youth tobacco use, like increasing tobacco taxes, passing comprehensive smoke-free laws and adequately funding state tobacco prevention and control programs.
Wisconsin has accomplished some of these critical steps to reducing youth by implementing effective health policies like the statewide smoke-free law in July of 2010. However, the amount of money our state spends on tobacco prevention and control is irresponsibly low.
Currently, due to significant cuts to the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program (TPCP) in the last two state budget cycles, Wisconsin only spends $5.3 million on efforts to keep youth from becoming lifetime customers of the tobacco industry and helping those already addicted quit. At first glance you may think that seems like a lot, but compare this to the amount that big tobacco spends in our state to attract new users and keep them addicted - $233 million!
The money matters – in Wisconsin, 60,000 teens are addicted smokers and nearly 7,000 become new smokers each year. If we want tobacco-free futures for our youth, we must continue leveraging the progress we’ve made already in our state by continuing to fund programs like TPCP or our hard-won gains will be lost.