LETTER: Wisconsin celebrates 10 years of smoke-free public places

LETTER: Wisconsin celebrates 10 years of smoke-free public places

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Sunday, July 5, is the 10th anniversary of Wisconsin’s Smoke-Free Air Law.

A generation of young people is growing up with this new smoke-free social norm, which, alongside increased cigarette taxes, has made a difference. According to data from Wisconsin Department of Health Services, in 2008, before the Smoke-Free Air law passed, 20.7% of high school youth smoked cigarettes. By 2018, eight years after the law went into effect, the rate decreased to 4.7%.

As great as Wisconsin’s Smoke-Free Law is, it’s not perfect. E-cigarettes were not an issue then and weren’t included in the state’s Smoke-Free law. Over the past few years, many Wisconsin communities, including Mauston and Reedsburg, have passed ordinances prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes in public places. Today, about 36% of the state’s population are protected from secondhand aerosol.

Secondhand aerosol from e-cigarettes contains nicotine, ultrafine particles and low levels of cancer causing toxins. Everyone has the right to breathe clean air, including air free from e-cigarette aerosol.

It is also encouraging to see several Wisconsin casinos reopening smoke-free amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including Ho-Chunk Gaming Baraboo.

If you want to quit, free help is available. Call the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT NOW (784-8669).

Donna McGinley, South Central Alliance for Tobacco Prevention, Mauston


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