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, June 29, 2012

Supreme Court Decision to Uphold Health Reform Law Preserves Vital Tobacco Prevention Initiatives

Statement of Matthew L. Myers

President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In upholding the health care reform law, the Supreme Court has preserved essential disease prevention initiatives that will help reduce the staggering health and financial toll of tobacco use. These prevention measures include expanded coverage of treatments to help smokers quit, as well as a new prevention fund to finance proven disease prevention and public health activities in communities across the nation. Preservation of these important prevention initiatives is a victory for the nation’s health and will save lives and save money by reducing health care costs.

The health care reform law requires coverage of smoking cessation and other preventive services without cost sharing, by group health plans and insurers, including those selling within the newly created insurance exchanges. The law also prevents states from excluding smoking-cessation drugs from the medications covered by their Medicaid programs and requires Medicaid to cover smoking-cessation treatments for pregnant women. It also provides incentives for state Medicaid programs to cover all recommended preventive services, including smoking cessation. Even if the Court’s decision to limit the penalties imposed on states that do not comply with the Medicaid expansion in the law leads some states not to participate in the expansion of who is covered, in our view it should not impact the availability of these cessation and tobacco prevention services to those covered by Medicaid under current law.

The law also established a Prevention and Public Health Fund to finance proven community-based prevention programs targeting public health problems such as tobacco use and obesity. Americans spend more than $2 trillion a year to treat disease and manage illnesses, and almost three quarters of that money is spent on caring for people with chronic diseases, many of which we know how to prevent.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people and costing the nation $96 billion in health care expenditures annually. Effective prevention, including smoking-cessation coverage, will save lives, improve health and reduce health care costs.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Altria Creates Nicotine Lozenge

Altria Group, Inc., the maker of Marlboro is launching a non-dissolving, nicotine disc called Verve. It won’t contain tobacco, but instead the chewable, mint-flavored disc contains nicotine, which is extracted from tobacco. This is the part that really matters. By not actually containing tobacco, Altria is betting to receive a milder health warning than for a product witch actually contains tobacco.
The Verve disc resembles a cough drop and releases nicotine as a user sucks or crews on it. The disc, made of cellulose and polymer, is thrown away after use. It will be sold in a package of 16 discs and sell for about $3, much less than a pack of cigarettes. Altria will begin selling Verve in Virginia this month.

Most important is how the FDA will respond to regulating this type of product. In 2009, the law granting the FDA authority over tobacco products also authorized the FDA to extend its jurisdiction to “other” tobacco products. In 2010, the FDA announced that they would issue regulations over all tobacco products, but has yet to do so. By taking too long to act, the FDA has given tobacco companies the opportunity to develop and introduce these novel types of products that circumvent the existing laws.

Final word, the FDA must assert jurisdiction over all tobacco and tobacco-derived products. By using their power to review products, restrict marketing and sales to children, require health warnings, mandate the disclosure of contents and prohibit any health claims without FDA review, the FDA will be doing their part in preventing the terrible toll of tobacco use and addiction to nicotine.

Written by guest blogger Kim Hageman

Monday, June 4, 2012

Tax Loophole in Wisconsin Needs Attention

It is common knowledge that tobacco tax increases provide a win-win-win solution for states. Every 10% increase in cigarette prices helps to reduce youth smoking by 7%, offering a health benefit. By increasing cigarette taxes, states enjoy substantial increases in revenue. Finally, the public supports these initiatives. Voters prefer raising tobacco taxes to other tax increases or reducing important education or public safety programs.

What may not be common knowledge is a loophole in Wisconsin law. Did you know some tobacco products are taxed less than cigarettes? Classified as "other tobacco products", these little cigars are functionally cigarettes, but are treated differently. "Other tobacco products" have no state law forcing them to be sold behind the counter. With a range of fruit flavors, they are intentionally made to look and smell like candy, but the truth is these are still dangerous tobacco products.

Last May, pollsters found that nearly 8 in 10 voters favor a behind-the-counter proposal for candy flavored tobacco and 71% want to see all tobacco products taxed the same as cigarettes. We know this will be a win-win-win for Wisconsin, so let’s all support ongoing efforts towards legislative action to close tobacco loopholes.

Written by guest blogger Kim Hageman, author of Surviving Oshkosh