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.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Cigarette Tax Increases Goes Through

posted on SmokeFree Wisconsin's blog Friday, May 29, 2009. Follow the SFW blog by clicking on the link to the right.

Wisconsin will have the 5th-highest cigarette tax in the nation, thanks to a 75-cent tax increase passed early this morning by the Joint Finance Committee. Cigarette taxes in Wisconsin will now total $2.52 per pack. Like the budget itself, the motion that raised taxes on cigarettes passed 12-4 along party lines. The cigarette tax increase, assuming the budget moves through the next budget steps without changes, will take effect September 1

Friday, May 29, 2009

Wisconsin is going smoke-free: What’s next?

The following was posted on the Janesville Gazette's website, http://gazettextra.com by Maureen Busalacchi, Executive Director of SmokeFree Wisconsin.

Wisconsin is going smoke-free! Eighty-six legislators voted in favor of workers' health and for safer workplace environments, including restaurants and bars. And that means bartenders, wait staff, musicians and others will experience fewer colds, runny noses, itchy eyes and other signs of respiratory distress, and more importantly, fewer cases of cancer, emphysema, heart attacks and other horrible diseases caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. All are indisputable benefits of smoke-free workplaces.

It's been a long and important battle for SmokeFree Wisconsin, an organization that has worked with local communities and state leaders to bring smoke-free air to Wisconsin citizens for the past nine years. But now that Wisconsin is the 27th state to pass a smoke-free workplace law, what's next for SmokeFree Wisconsin? Plenty.

We have and will continue to focus on policies that we know reduce youth tobacco use--such as raising the price of cigarettes and other tobacco products through higher taxes and funding prevention and educational programs. While the tobacco industry continues to target and addict youth by developing and marketing candy-flavored products that hook kids on new types of tobacco products, we must step up efforts to prevent tobacco addiction.

We already have a successful and proven tobacco control program in place. There is a strong correlation between the beginning of the program and the 40 percent reduction in youth smoking over the course of the past seven years. If we discontinue or reduce tobacco control programs targeted at youth, smoking rates will climb back up. And the cycle of addiction, disease and death will continue to devastate Wisconsin families.

Not only do kids need support, but adult smokers do, as well.

The state-sponsored tobacco Quitline has received tens of thousands of calls from smokers who want to quit tobacco for good, and we simply must do everything we can to help the one million tobacco users in this state.

Our work is not done, and our task will not be easy. But what's at stake is staggering:
Tobacco is the biggest cause of preventable, premature death and disease in Wisconsin, claiming nearly 8,000 lives every year. And the cost to Wisconsin citizens to treat tobacco-related diseases is real (to the tune of more than $2 billion each year). We all pay these costs in the form of higher health insurance premiums, so it's in everyone's interest to reduce the number of smokers in our state.

So today, let's celebrate Wisconsin becoming a smoke-free state--and thank the 86 forward-thinking legislators who chose health and prevention by voting for a smoke-free Wisconsin. They will go down in history as leaders who rescued many thousands of our citizens from premature death and illness.

But tomorrow, here at SmokeFree Wisconsin, we'll roll up our sleeves and continue our daily battle against tobacco--and its devastating path of destruction.

Maureen Busalacchi is executive director of SmokeFree Wisconsin, phone (608) 268-2620; e-mail mbusalacchi@smokefreewi.org.

With the recent 40% that the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program that was approved by the Joint Finance Committee there are several changes that could take place.

What will happen next:
  • More changes to the budget by JFC
  • JFC's budget moves to full Assembly for debate and vote (great opportunity for you to tell your state representative to reverse the cut - explain how the Quitline, your local coalition, or youth prevention activities have made a difference for you)
  • Budget moves to full Senate for debate and vote (important to also let your senator know why tobacco prevention is important to you or the people you care about)
  • Budgets are reconciled between the Assembly and Senate
  • Budget heads to governor's desk
  • Governor may exercise line item veto power and sign or reject the legislature's budget

On another note, it looks like the proposed tobacco tax increase will be up for debate later tonight.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Coalition Partners with Waterfest

The Coalition has partnered with Waterfest in Oshkosh to host a Designated Driver Party Sober table. "Fest-goers" will be given mardi gras beads and free water/soda tickets if they are planning on "partying sober" that night or if they are a desginated driver.

Signs will line the sidewalk with great messaging about what could happen to you if you drive home after drinking alcohol, the difference between a cab ride and an OWI ticket and information about what our Coalition is and does.

We are grateful for the UWO AmeriCorp volunteers that will be energizing the Coalition through the end of July. BUT, more volunteers are still needed! If you are available on a Thursday night from 5:30-7:30pm, please contact Lisa Brown at lbrown@co.winnebago.wi.us for more information.

Check out the Waterfest line-up at http://www.waterfest.org/.

(Did I mention you get into Waterfest FREE if you are volunteering at the table?! ;-) Looks like it will be a great partnership and lots of fun!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Drunk Driving Hearing scheduled for June 2; register or testify

Greetings Partners:

Representative Tony Staskunas has long been an advocate on trying to fix what’s wrong with our system as it relates to drunk driving. Today he has introduced an omnibus bill on drunk driving which includes his ignition interlock device bill. Below is a summary of the many changes his bill makes along with a copy of the actual bill. He has a scheduled a public hearing on the bill for next Tuesday, June 2 at the State Fair Park in West Allis.
Assembly Public Safety, 12:30 pm, Tue, June 2, State Fair Park, TGT Youth Center, Banquet Room 2, 640 S. 84th St., West Allis.
Hearing on:
AB-283. DWI (Staskunas) Penalties for drunk driving.

1 - Mandatory Ignition Interlock Devices This proposal would require the installation and use of Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) for all repeat drunk driving convictions and for first time high BAC (.15 or higher) convictions for at least one year. Under AB 17 the convicted drunk driver would be responsible for paying for the installation and monitoring costs of the IID. OWI offenders whose income is at or below 150% of the federal poverty level would only be required to pay half of the installation and monitoring costs. Additionally, the offender would pay a $50 fee to the DOT to cover the state’s covers for IID oversight. The costs for this legislation will be paid for by the offender, not by the state.
The ignition interlock device equipment would be required for one year from the date that an offender obtains a drivers license. Offenders will not be able to ‘wait out’ the 12 month IID requirement during their license suspension.
2 - SAFE Streets Treatment Options Program In 2005 a pilot program was created in Winnebago County to offer reduced time of imprisonment to convicted OWI offenders contingent upon successful completion of a local treatment program in conjunction with probation. Offenders can opt to participate in this program only one time.
Data collected over the first two years of the project shows that Winnebago County saved over $465,000 dollars in jail time costs for the county which has allowed the county to spend $218,000 fewer dollars in overall criminal justice spending. Perhaps most importantly, the SAFE Streets program has a record 4% recidivism rate for those completing the program, significantly reducing the likelihood of re-offence.
This provision will allow the expansion of the SSTOP program statewide. Participation would not mandatory; this proposal simply allows counties to offer such programs within their jurisdiction.
3 – Punishing Repeat Drunk Drivers – There are currently statutory mandatory minimum jail sentences for misdemeanor OWI offenses and for 5th and 6th offenses, there are not for 7th and subsequent offences. This provision would establish mandatory minimum jail sentences for all OWI offenses.
There are ten judicial districts in Wisconsin. Each one has established their own OWI sentencing guidelines. As a result a person convicted in one judicial district can receive a much more lenient sentence than a person convicted of the same OWI offense in a different district. By establishing mandatory minimum sentencing we can be confident that a person convicted of a 7th OWI will serve a minimum of three years in prison no matter which part of the state they are from.
4 - Closing .08-.099 Loophole When the prohibited blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for the operation of motor vehicles was lowered from 0.10 to 0.08 in 2003, a special exemption was created for first-time offenses falling between the old limit and the new limit. This provision would repeal those exemptions.
Under current law, in addition to other penalties, individuals convicted of operating while intoxicated are subject to a number of penalty surcharges and court fees and must comply with a drug and alcohol assessment before their driving privileges can be reinstated. However, first-time offenders who have a BAC of 0.08 or more but less than 0.10 are not subject to penalty surcharges, court fees, or drug and alcohol assessments.
5 - Probation for OWI Offenses Under current law, a Judge may not order probation as part of the sentence upon a second or third OWI conviction. This provision would add probation as an additional option for Judges when issuing OWI sentences. Giving Judges the ability to individualize sentencing to include supervision, counseling or treatment could help to rehabilitate the offender.
6 - Extending the period of revocation Currently if a driver is convicted of an OWI offense has their license suspended and is sentenced to confinement, the suspension and jail time run concurrently. So upon release from jail if he could be eligible to get his license back immediately if the jail time and suspension were for the same time frame.
The punishment of a suspended license becomes almost irrelevant if the revocation runs at the same of incarceration. This provision changes state law so that the clock doesn’t start running for driver license revocations until after the OWI offender has completed their incarceration.
7 – Penalty Enhancer for causing Injury Currently if a driver is convicted of an OWI or an OWI-homicide offense, previous OWI convictions are taken into consideration for sentencing. This is not the case for OWI-causing injury offenses. This provision would simply allow previous OWI offenses to be considered in these cases in which a drunk driver caused injuries.
8 - Fourth OWI - Felony This provision would make a fourth OWI offense a felony if the driver had a previous OWI−related conviction, suspension, or revocation within the previous five−year period.
9 – Repeat Offender Absolute Sobriety If the person has three or more prior OWI−related convictions, suspensions, or revocations, the prohibited alcohol concentration is defined as an alcohol concentration of more than 0.02. This provision changes the absolute sobriety requirement to commence after a second OWI conviction.

Lisa Maroney UW Health State Legislative Liaison (608)265-1653 (608)206-5829 cell 635 Science Drive, Suite 150 Madison, WI 53711

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wisconsin Joins the Ranks of Smoke-Free States

From the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

The Wisconsin legislation adds to the growing momentum across the country and around the world to protect everyone's right to breathe smoke-free air. The Wisconsin Legislature voted just hours after lawmakers in North Carolina approved similar legislation, which will make it the first major tobacco-growing state to prohibit smoking in all restaurants and bars. With the addition of Wisconsin and North Carolina, nearly 59 percent of Americans will be protected by strong smoke-free laws that include restaurants and bars. No one should have to put their health at risk in order to earn a paycheck or enjoy a night out.

Wisconsin joins 26 other states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico in passing smoke-free legislation that covers restaurants and bars. The states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana (extends to bars Oct. 1, 2009), Nebraska (June 1, 2009), New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina (Jan. 2, 2010), Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota (July 1, 2009), Utah, Vermont and Washington. A growing number of countries have also passed nationwide smoke-free laws, including Bermuda, Bhutan, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom and Uruguay.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wisconsin will go SMOKE-FREE

Congratulations are in order! Wisconsin is another huge step closer to being the 27th smoke-free state in the nation (North Carolina will be 26th). Both the Senate (25-8) and Assembly (61-38) passed identical smoke free laws on Wednesday (SB 253 & AB 181).which now goes to Governor Doyle. The governor announced that it will be signed into law on Monday, May 18. To accompany this action, the governor will be holding “signing events” in 3 cities on Monday. Contact Emily by 3pm on Friday, May 15 if you'd like to attend the event in Green Bay.

This victory is a direct result of the countless efforts made by all of us in tobacco control. Smoke-free efforts first began in 1991 with the ASSIST Project, continued throughout the many years, and culminated with the targeted focus on a statewide smoke-free air policy in 2008 and 2009. While the legislation that was passed isn't perfect, it will protect the health of nearly all Wisconsin workers and patrons, and stands as a remarkable public health achievement for our state.

Our fight is not over. There is still an incredible amount of work to be done to reduce the suffering caused by the tobacco industry. However, with the continued commitment of all tobacco control partners, I am confident that Wisconsin's tobacco prevention and control movement is more than ready to meet the challenges that lie ahead.

Please take some time to celebrate our remarkable accomplishment and congratulate your colleagues for their efforts. Thank you for all of your hard work! Its a GREAT time to be a resident of Wisconsin and will be even better in July 2010!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

More Than 1 in 10 Children Live with a Substance Abusing Parent

Study: Almost 12 percent of children under the age of 18 years of age live with at least one parent who was dependent on, or abused alcohol or an illicit drug during the past year, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The report is based on national data from 2002 to 2007."The chronic emotional stress in such an environment can damage their social and emotional development and permanently impede healthy brain development, often resulting in mental and physical health problems across the lifespan. This underlines the importance of preventive interventions at the earliest possible age."

Almost 7.3 million children lived with a parent who was dependent on or abused alcohol
About 2.1 million children lived with a parent who was dependent on or abused illicit drugs
5.4 million children lived with a father who met the criteria for past year substance dependence or abuse
3.4 million lived with a mother who met this criteria

The full report is available on the web at: ttp://oas.samhsa.gov/2k9/SAparents/SAparents.cfm.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Substitute amendment to the smoke-free air bill

The Assembly and the Senate Health Committees have both heard the SFA bill. There was a lot of testimony from those in favor and opposed to the bill. After speaking with both sides, the Committee has offered some amendments to the original bill. On Friday, both Committees will meet in executive session, without public debate and will have a test vote on AB 253 and SB 181 with the proposed amendment outlined below. If passed, it will move to the organization committees in both chambers (the Senate and Assembly rules committee).

Amendments to AB 253 and SB 181
*Date of implementation: July 2010 (the original bill has 60 days, this is now 14 months)
*Fine structure: Individuals caught smoking in workplaces would be fined $100-$250. Business owners are under "due diligence" principle, which means if they see a violation, ask the person to stop, stop serving the customer, and ask them to leave the premise, they will not be fined if they call the police. The owner’s first violation does not carry a fine, but each subsequent offense has a $100 fine.
*Outside smoking: The bill says smokers have to maintain a "reasonable distance" from any smoke-free building. The bill also pre-empts local governments from passing ordinances banning smoking on outdoor patios. Governments can still regulate and pass smoke-free ordinances on outdoor city property such as parks and fair grounds. Individuals businesses can also choose to have smoke-free patios.
*Tobacco retailers that receive 75% or more of their income from tobacco sales can have smoking in their business.
*Cigar bars that receive 15% or more of their income from cigar sales can have cigar smoke in their establishments, but not cigarette smoke. Cigar bars are allowed to have a liquor license. (The current established cigar bars in Wisconsin (there are aprox. 10 in the state) will be grandfathered in. SmokeFree WI and other memebers of the Holding our Breath Coalition are working on setting a specific date for the grandfathering in of these and tobacco retailers.)
*Hookah bars: Indoor smoking will not be allowed under the bill or the proposed amendment, but could be allowed if 75% or more of their sales are from tobacco.
*Hotel rooms are not exempt under the new amendment. The original bill allows for hotel owners to have up to 25% of rooms be smoking. There might be an additional amendment on this when it’s debated on the floor.
*The bill and new amendment are silent on casinos. There is not a legal way to mandate that Native American casinos become smoke free, because they are sovereign nations and the state of Wisconsin does not have jurisdiction over them.
*Nursing homes are not exempted at this time. That may change due to federal law.
*Assisted living homes are considered private residences and individual rooms can allow smoking if it is someone’s personal residence. Additionally, if two or more people share a room and all want to allow smoking, they can sign a written agreement to that effect.
*Community based treatment centers (ie for treating alcohol or drug addiction, or a mental health facility) are not exempted from the smoke-free law.

If business owners are ready to go smoke-free now we can certainly encourage businesses to go smoke-free early.

The bill is part of the legislative process and although it contains a longer implementation date and more exemptions than we would prefer, it is an indoor smoke-free air bill, which is the ultimate goal, and the compromises introduced in this bill give it a better shot at passing.

REMEMBER: The smoke-free legislation has not passed yet, and we need to work hard to make sure it passes next week. Expect quite a few amendments to be debated on the floor. In addition, the smoke-free provision in the budget will be taken out at some point, but the exact timeline is unclear.

Timeline for the SFA bill after this week:
*Tuesday May 12: The Assembly Democrats will caucus about the smoke-free bill.
*Wednesday May 13: The bill will be up for debate in both houses. They will vote on the original bill, the proposed amendment, and any other amendments proposed.
*Both the Assembly and the Senate need to pass the same bill with the same amendments in order to send it to the governor for his signature. If one house adopts an amendment and the other does not, we do not have a bill and it must be debated upon again until both houses agree on the same version.

Contact SmokeFree WI (http://www.smokefreewi.org/) if there is something specific that you want to do on the 'lobbying' end.

Otherwise, contact Emily, edieringer@co.winnebago.wi.us with questions.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Status of SB181 and AB253

There are 26 Representatives and 7 Senators that have signed on to sponsor the Smoke-free Air Bill. This is great news!

The Senate committee will be holding a hearing TODAY at 10am on SB 181 (SFA) and the Assembly wil be holding a hearing TOMORROW at 10am on AB 253 (SFA) Both bills are the same one that is in the Budget. Executive sessions to vote on the bill are scheduled for Thursday for the Senate, and Friday for the Assembly.

You can watch the hearings live on Wisconsin Eye: http://www.wiseye.org/wisEye_stream/wisEye_StreamCap2_Video.html

The SFA bill will be going to the floor to be voted upon on May 13. From there, if both versions of the bill are the same, it could become law. If the senate and house versions are different, they will have to go back and make both versions the same before it can be passed into law.

As of now, there are some questions on "outdoor exemptions," fines associated with non-compliance with the law, implementation date (60 days-1 year have been thrown around), cigarette bar amendments, tobacco retailer amendments, and hotel/b&b amendments.

I'll try to keep updating as often as new information becomes available. If there is something YOU want to do to help the cause, write a letter to the editor about the importance of a comprehensive smoke-free air law with no exemptions and no delays as it relates to the health of everyone.

As a side note, the cigarette tax is still in the budget, waiting to get voted upon. It could stay in or it could be taken out. They haven’t gotten that far into the budget yet.

Friday, May 1, 2009

MORE NEWS on Smoke-free Air!!

The statewide smoking ban will get a public hearing Wednesday, May 6, in the Assembly Committee on Health and Healthcare Reform, according to Milwaukee Dem Rep. Jon Richards, the committee chairman.

This hearing will begin at 10:00 a.m. and will be in room 412 East at the Capitol if you plan to attend. Remember, if you work for any governmental agency, this is considered a lobbying event so please plan accordingly.

The bill, AB 252, is the same as the language proposed by Gov. Jim Doyle in the state budget.

A vote is being planned for May 8, and could come to the floor on May 13.

Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, D-Weston, told his caucus this week that he'd like the smoking ban in his house by May 13.