As Wisconsin’s lawmakers ponder the states budget for the next two years, unfortunately, missing from the conversation is one of our States great health success stories: Wisconsin’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Program.
Not taking this successful program into account is a serious and irresponsible oversight on the part of our lawmakers.
This is one program that has not only saved lives including the lives of children, but it has also saved taxpayers enormous amounts of money.
Not long ago, a third of Wisconsin’s adults and a third of our high school students smoked.
Today, the number of adult smokers has dropped to a fifth and only one in eight teenagers say they smoke. If this is not significant enough for you, lets break this down in terms of dollars.
Tobacco prevention pays for itself; each dollar invested in tobacco prevention saves $3,610 in tobacco-caused health care costs, according to a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention.
Moreover, this same study confirms that every smoker who quits saves the state of Wisconsin more than $1,600 in medical and other health care costs.
This has been a hard fought, uphill battle, and while we are making strides, now is not the time to quit or become complacent.
It is a good time, however, to ratchet up spending on these proactive programs to keep the numbers going in the right direction in a downward spiral.
Tobacco still kills more than 7,000 Wisconsinites a year and costs our state $4.5 billion in health care and lost productivity. Wisconsin’s sparsely-funded Tobacco Prevention and Control Program has already saved Wisconsin thousands of lives and millions of dollars, but rather than neglect this program, let’s continue to build on this incredible success.
There are still portions of the State that receive no resources, quit line services have been cut from five counseling calls to one call, and successful youth prevention programs aimed at encouraging teens to discuss the dangers of tobacco products have been cut from the budget.
The Tobacco Prevention and Control Program has merits it helps smokers quit, prevents youth from starting, reduces exposure to secondhand smoke, tackles health disparities and has a proven track record. Its a win-win program. To that end, we urge you to contact your legislators to remind them of the merits of this program and demand that the funding is not only put on the discussion table, but also increased. It saves lives and that’s priceless!
Respiratory Care Practitioner
8532 W. Capitol Dr
Milwaukee, WI 53222