Mission Statement

The mission of re:TH!NK, the Lakeshore Tobacco Prevention Network, is to improve the health of our residents by reducing tobacco use and exposure through prevention strategies which include community outreach and involvement to move policy forward collaboratively, across our multi-jurisdictional area.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Update on WI WINS Compliance Checks

Winnebago County Illegal Tobacco Sales Nearly Triple

(Winnebago County)- The Winnebago County Tobacco Free Coalition, in partnership with the Wisconsin Wins (WI WINS) program and local law enforcement agencies completed their first round of tobacco compliance checks. So far this year, Winnebago County has a non-compliance rate of 27%, with 41 of 151 retailers selling tobacco illegally to minors. In 2007, Winnebago County had a non-compliance rate of 10% non-compliance (32 sales of 302 attempts).

Emily Dieringer, Winnebago County Tobacco Free Coalition Coordinator and Health Educator, states, "It’s very disturbing to see that in Winnebago County it is way too easy for youth to access tobacco products. More education on the laws and how to properly check a driver’s license is needed." During the remainder of the year, the Coalition will strengthen its efforts to educate retailers and their in hopes to increase the number of businesses that deny the sale of tobacco to minors.

Some municipalities have a very low number of sales:
  • Winneconne, 0 of 7 (0%)
  • Omro 1 of 6 (16%)
  • Menasha 2 of 15 (13%)
  • Town of Menasha, 2 of 17 (12%).
Other areas have a higher number of sales: Oshkosh, 15 of 45 (33%), Neenah 8 of 29 (28%) and Winnebago County towns, 13 of 38 (34%).The WI WINS program’s main focus is on those retailers who do the right thing by not selling tobacco to minors. "We want to recognize the 73% of retailers who don’t sell tobacco to minors and we do so when after completing each check with a thank you note and reward," Dieringer adds.

WI WINS is a proven tobacco prevention and control effort sponsored by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to reduce illegal sales and access to tobacco by minors. Each year WI WINS conducts compliance checks throughout the state in efforts to reduce illegal tobacco sales to minors and prevent youth tobacco use. The program utilizes trained 15-17 year-olds under adult supervision to attempt to purchase tobacco from local tobacco retailers. On average, the state has seen a steady decline in non-compliance rates since the program’s inception in 2001.For more information visit http://www.wiwins.com/.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

DFC Press Release

Winnebago County’s Health Department Earns More than $600,000 to Fight Youth Substance Abuse

(Oshkosh, WI) – The Winnebago County Health Department has been awarded a grant of up to $625,000 by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Public Health Director and Health Officer Doug Gieryn announced October 8, 2008.

The Drug Free Communities Grant program awards up to $625,000 over five years to community organizations that to work to help keep youth from using illegal drugs, alcohol and tobacco. The grant period began October 1. Winnebago County will receive up to $125,000 per year for the next five years.

"It’s not enough to tell our kids and teenagers not to use drugs," Gieryn said. "We need to help them understand why they should stay away from these substances. This grant will help us continue to reach that goal."

Communities with a Drug Free Communities program have proven that their efforts are effective in preventing substance use and abuse among teens when compared with national rates, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The grant will support the Winnebago County Drug Free Coalition and expand its efforts in reducing tobacco use and combating alcohol, prescription drug and other substance abuse.

"We encourage parents, youth and area community leaders and organizations to join and become actively involved in the Coalition’s activities to help protect families from the harms of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs," said Emily Dieringer, interim Winnebago County DFC Coordinator.
Winnebago County is actively recruiting to hire a grant coordinator to oversee the Drug Free Coalition’s activities.

The Drug Free Communities Program, created under the Drug-Free Communities Act of 1997, provides grants to communities to help increase public participation in local antidrug efforts.
To learn more, contact the Winnebago County Health Department at (920) 232-3000.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Senate and Assembly Candidates Show Support for Smoke-Free Workplaces

On Tuesday, October 14, at UW Oshkosh’s Reeve Memorial Union nine area candidates were invited to share their views with the public on three "hot button" health-related issues. Guest speakers provided an informative educational session for the candidates and the public before the candidates gave their comments. Karen Aspenson, UWO Social Work Professor, spoke on the urgent need for Mental Health Parity. Bill Smith, State Director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), spoke on the complexity of Universal Health Care. Maureen Busalacchi, Director of SmokeFree Wisconsin, spoke on the importance of Smoke Free Air. The event was moderated by Jerry Burke (formerly with WBAY).

Candidates in attendance included John Townsend (R) Assembly District 52, Dick Spanbauer (R) and Jeff Mann (D) Assembly District 53, Mark Reiff (R) and Gordon Hintz (D) Assembly District 54, Dean Kaufert (R) and Mark Westphal (D) Assembly District 55, and Susan Garcia Franz (D) Assembly District 56. Senate District 18 candidate Jess King (D) sent a representative from her campaign as she could not attend due to the Oshkosh City Council meeting.

Each candidate was given one minute to respond to each topic after the educational session. Specifically on the issue of Smoke Free Air, candidates were asked if they would support a 100% comprehensive state-wide smoke-free workplace law that includes bars and restaurants. Townsend and Kaufert want to represent what a majority of their constituents want, so they both support such a state-wide law. Hintz, Garcia Franz and King would support such a state-wide law specifically noting the health effects of second hand smoke and the cost to treat tobacco-related diseases. Reiff does not support any state-wide smoke-free law explaining that it is a property rights issue and businesses should make that decision. Mann and Westphal would support a state-wide law if there were certain exceptions for taverns (Mann would not support a 100% comprehensive workplace bill as it stands now). Spanbauer, although torn, would want equal treatment for all workplaces and would support a state-wide law.

The forum was attended by over 100 potential voters living in Winnebago and Fond du Lac counties. It was sponsored by Winnebago County Public Health, the Fond du Lac County Health Department, the Winnebago County Tobacco Free Coalition, the Fond du Lac County Tobacco Control Coalition, UWO Student Social Work Association, Oshkosh Student Nursing Association, the UWO Kinesiology Club and the UWO HPER Club.

Thank you to all those who attended and to those who helped make the event a success.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How do Winnebago and Fond du Lac Counties MEASURE UP?

Current Issues on Health: Candidate Forum is TUESDAY OCTOBER 14 from 5:30-7:00pm at Reeve Union, UW Oshkosh. Hope to see you there. Details from the event will be posted soon!