DHS: State’s cigarette smoking rates lower 10 years after passage of Smoke-Free Indoor Air Law
For the Tomahawk Leader
WISCONSIN – The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) says fewer people in the state are smoking cigarettes a decade after the passage of a law prohibiting smoking in enclosed public spaces.
The state’s Smoke-Free Indoor Air Law went into effect in July 2010. In that time, DHS says the state’s cigarette smoking rate has declined.
According to DHS, 20% of Wisconsin adults smoked cigarettes in 2008, two years before the law passed. In 2018, 16% of adults in the state were smoking. The smoking rate among high school students has dropped drastically from nearly 21% in 2008 to nearly 5% in 2018.
DHS points to the increase in state cigarette taxes as a contributor to the reduction in smoking rates.
“Many communities have local ordinances that also prohibit the use of e-cigarettes and vaping devices in restaurants and bars, protecting an estimated 2 million Wisconsin residents, about 36% of the state’s population, from secondhand smoke,” DHS stated. “Nearly 5% of Wisconsin adults currently use e-cigarettes, and nearly 22% of Wisconsin adults have used them.”
Although casinos are exempt from the smoke-free law, several Wisconsin tribes have moved toward a smoke-free environment in their casinos, and more are now doing so in light of COVID-19, DHS said.
DHS encourages Wisconsinites to continue observing physical distancing practices and to wear masks to prevent transmission of COVID-19 if they visit local restaurants, bars, or casinos.
“Wisconsin is breathing easier today thanks to this law, but we know there are many people in our state who still smoke,” DHS Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm stated. “We urge smokers to take advantage of the programs available to help them to quit (www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/tobacco/treatment.htm), especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people who smoke are believed to be more susceptible to the virus, and can become severely ill with it.”