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.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

WI Wins Program Continues to be Effective Despite Funding Cuts

The WI Wins tobacco compliance check program, despite funding cuts to the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program is still a needed and effective program in Winnebago County. The TFDFC Coalition partners with local law enforcement agencies and county youth to conduct these checks.
How the Program Works
Minors, with the accompaniment of an adult from the TFDFC Coalition, attempt to purchase tobacco products at randomly selected business that hold a tobacco license. Businesses that do NOT sell to the minors are congratulated by the Coalition for following the law and not selling tobacco to minors. Clerks that complete sales of tobacco products to minors are fined. Fines in Winnebago County range from $87-$298.
Compliance Checks in Winnebago County
All law enforcement agencies in Winnebago County have been cooperating with the Coalition for the past several years to enforce the law by issuing citations to non-compliant businesses and clerks. Research shows illegal sales go down when compliance checks are in place and there are immediate consequences issued to those who sell tobacco to minors.
Tool for Retailers
The WI Wins program offers outreach and education to tobacco retails through an online program http://Smokecheck.org. Smokecheck.org is an easy online tool to learn the facts about Wisconsin's tobacco sales laws. When employers and employees know the facts, they can avoid a big mistake and expensive citations. The website offers downloadable study guides and an online test.
Non-Compliance Rates
Currently, the 2009 non-compliance rate is 20.9%. In 2008, the non-compliance rate in Winnebago County was 23%; in 2007, it was 12.5%. There is obviously still a need for this program in our area and our Coalition will continue to conduct compliance checks.
If you would like more information about the WI Wins program, please contact Emily at edieringer@co.winnebago.wi.us

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tobacco Quit Line Loses Funding Despite Increase in Cigarette Tax

Hi Everyone

Please see the article below. It was posted on the Wisconsin State Journal's website on Sept. 30.

If you would like more information on this issue or ideas of how you could help, please contact SmokeFree Wisconsin. A link to their website is on the right-hand side of this blog.


Starting Thursday, smokers with health insurance who call the state Quit Line for help kicking their habit will get less help, the result of a 55 percent cut in state funding to smoking cessation and anti-smoking programs.

In spite of soaring state cigarette taxes, the Quit Line's funding was slashed by two-thirds - from $3.7 million a year to $1.2 million - as part of the broad cuts implemented in the 2009-11 budget signed by Gov. Jim Doyle to help solve the state's massive deficit. Total funding for anti-tobacco programs was cut from $15.3 million a year to $6.9 million.

The cuts follow a 75-cent increase in the cigarette tax on Sept. 1 that brought the state tax to $2.52 per pack, and also follows a $1-per-pack increase in 2008 - moves made to help solve budget deficits.

Maureen Busalacchi, executive director of SmokeFree Wisconsin, said more resources are needed by smokers motivated to quit by both the tax increase and a state smoking ban on bars and restaurants going into effect on July 5, 2010.

"When people need the resources most, we'll be least able to help them," Busalacchi said.

The Quit Line previously offered four sessions of follow-up calls to state smokers who call seeking to kick the habit, along with two weeks of a free nicotine patch or nicotine gum, at a total cost of $323 for callers who use all those services, said Moira Harrington, spokeswoman for the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention, which oversees the Quit Line.

The Quit Line, operated by a company in Seattle, still will offer the same level of service to smokers with no health coverage or with state Medicaid coverage for the poor, she said. But smokers with private health insurance now will receive one follow-up call and the nicotine replacement items, said Harrington, who couldn't rule out additional cuts in services.

"It's not a decision we made lightly," she said. "We've just had to make a hard choice."

Dr. Michael Fiore, director of the center, said research showed more follow-up counseling sessions with smokers was more effective in helping them quit.

State Department of Health Services spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis said smokers with private health insurance still will be able to make repeat calls to the Quit Line. But now the responsibility is on the smokers to call, instead of the counselors making follow-up calls to the smoker.

"This means we will make the best use of limited Quit Line resources and maximize access to smoking cessation services through private insurance," Marquis said

Other cuts to state tobacco control programs included:
• Overall programs to help people quit smoking, including the Quit Line and programs aimed at pregnant mothers, fall from $5 million a year to $1.8 million.
• Training and technical assistance for those working to reduce smoking drop from $1.5 million in 2009 to $505,000 in 2010.
• Anti-tobacco programs aimed at minorities drop from $1.3 million to $752,000 and programs aimed at teens will drop from $928,500 to $390,000.
• Anti-smoking advertising falls from $835,000 to $430,000.

Busalacchi said she supports a bill by Rep. Jeff Smith, D-Eau Claire, that would provide more than $2 million in additional money for anti-tobacco efforts. The bill would do so by rolling back a recent increase in how much of the cigarette tax can be kept by wholesale tobacco sellers to cover the costs of collecting the tax for the state and placing tax stamps on cigarette packages.

A representative of the industry, which opposes the bill, could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.