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.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Youth Smoking Rates Drop to Lowest in Years

Youth smoking rates in Wisconsin have dropped to 17% in 2009! This is down from 21% in 2007. Click in the link below to read the AP article. Governor Doyle attributed this decline to success prevention programs and a high cigarette tax. YAY us! Our efforts really do make a difference!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Michigan passes smoke-free air law!!

The Michigan Legislature passed a long-awaited statewide law this week.

It includes all bars, restaurants, workplaces. There are only a few exemptions that include three Detroit casinos, cigar bars, tobacco specialty shops, home offices and motor vehicles.

The law will take effect in May of 2010 (before WI's smoke-free air law goes into effect in July)

Click on the link below to view the article in the Chicago Tribune.

WOO HOO Michigan!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Message from Senator Kohl on Black Market Cigarette Smuggling

The following was posted on US Senator Herb Kohl's e-newsletter on November 20. -emily

Cigarette trafficking has become a highly profitable revenue source for criminal and terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, al Qaeda and Hamas. Money is often raised in the United States, then funneled back to these international terrorist groups. Cigarette smuggling is a multibillion dollar phenomenon and getting worse. To counter this trend, I introduced the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act of 2009 which recently passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. It provides law enforcement essential resources to crack down on black market tobacco ventures.

The PACT Act will strengthen our tobacco laws to ensure that law enforcement has the tools they need to investigate and prosecute cigarette traffickers. Illegal tobacco vendors around the world evade detection by conducting transactions over the Internet, then shipping their illegal products around the country to consumers. Just a few years ago, there were less than 100 vendors selling cigarettes online. Today, approximately 500 vendors sell illegal tobacco products over the Internet. Each day we delay the PACT Act's passage, terrorists and criminals raise more money, states lose significant tax revenue, and kids have easy access to tobacco products sold over the internet.

In 1998, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had six active tobacco smuggling investigations. Today there are more than 400. But the number of cases alone does not sufficiently put the challenge into perspective. The amount of money involved is truly astonishing. Cigarette trafficking, including the illegal sale of tobacco products over the internet, costs states billions of dollars in lost tax revenue each year. It is estimated that we lose $5 billion of tax revenue, at the federal and state level, every year.

The cost to Americans is not merely financial. Internet tobacco sales have been used by terrorist and organized crime groups to raise millions of dollars to support their illicit activities. Hezbollah is estimated to have earned $1.5 million between 1996 and 2000 through tobacco smuggling. The 9/11 Commission noted that terrorists often raise money by trafficking in counterfeit goods, such as cigarettes. We can no longer continue to let terrorist organizations exploit the weaknesses in our tobacco laws to their advantage.

The Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act will:

· Strengthen reporting requirements for interstate cigarette sellers.

· Increase the criminal penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony and create a substantial civil penalty for violations, including violations of the reporting requirements and state tobacco tax laws.

· Grant federal and state law enforcement officials more power to investigate and prosecute violators.

· Prohibit the United States Postal Service from delivering tobacco products

The common sense approach taken in the PACT Act to combat this problem has brought together a strong coalition of supporters. The legislation has the backing of the law enforcement community, numerous public health advocates, and tobacco companies. I am encouraged by the Judiciary Committee's vote and am optimistic that we can work together to pass this bill.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Smoke-Free Air Implementation at the Local Level

The following are two articles from the League of Municipalities regarding the impact of the statewide smoke free law on Wisconsin municipalities. They are sort of lengthy but worth the time it takes to read them. The Coalition will be going over what "going smoke-free statewide" means at our general coalition meeting in January.

Statewide Smoking Ban: What Does It Mean for Municipalities?
[November 2009 Note] By Curt Witynski, Assistant Director

Smoke Free in Wisconsin
[November 2009 Comment] by Lucie McGee, Eau Claire Assistant Attorney

Please note the "Conclusion" of the second article. It states that "Nearly every department of the city has been involved in the ongoing implementation of the smoke-free ordinance. It is safe to say that no one anticipated the amount of related work and oversight that would be generated from a seemingly simple change in the law. Now, the state, local governments and all communities are being faced with this challenge."

Friday, December 4, 2009

Senate and State Lawmakers agree that Drunk Driviers should foot the bill

Action on drunken driving bill planned for Dec. 16

The Senate And Assembly versions of the drunken driving bill are identical in many ways. Both would:

Make a 4th OWI a felony if it occurs within a 5 year previous offense (right now it isn't a felony offense until the 5th)

Require ignition interlocks for repeat drunken drivers or for first time offenders if their BAC exceeds 0.15

Make first-offense drunken driving a misdemeanor if a child under 16 is in the car (WI is the only state to treat first offenses as traffic tickes rather than crimes)

Expand the Winnebago County Safe Streets program across the state-this gives judges the opportunity to reduce jail time to offenders who complete an alcohol/drug treatment program.

Eliminate the provision that provides lighter penalties for lesser BAC. Lower blood alcohol levels would face the same fines and penalties at those 0.10 or above.

So what still needs to be worked out? FUNDING

The changes would cost an estimated 15-28 million dollars annually, largely beause of the increased costs to house inmates. The two bills differ on how to pay costs when analysts are unsure of how many people would be sentenced. Both do agree however that they want to cover the costs by increasing fees on offenders.