The American Lung Association says their efforts to reduce or prevent tobacco use is a constant battle. Dona Wininsky with the group’s Wisconsin chapter says for every success achieved, the tobacco industry is out there creating new products, and developing new ways to market those products. “In the adult population now we’re seeing this proliferation around the state of roll-your-own cigarette shops. The reason that people are attracted to those is that the price is lower.”
Wininsky says the roll-your-own shops use cigar tobacco, which is taxed lower than cigarette tobacco. The shops sell loose tobacco and cigarette papers to customers who assemble their own smokes on the spot. Wininsky says the end product cost less than already-made expensive name brands, so any accomplishments gained from the higher price of cigarettes as a result of a hefty tax, is undone by the roll-your-own operations.
Also, the percentage of youth smokers is down from previous years, but Wininsky says marketing efforts are hindering that success. “It was over 30 percent not too terribly long ago; it’s about 20 percent now. There’s all kinds of new flavored, candy-flavored, fruit-flavored products and kids who at one time might have been cigarette smokers are now smoking grape-flavored cigarillos, for example.”
Wininsky says the laws need to catch up with the new products available to the public.
A recent report by the American Lung Association said Wisconsin falls short when it comes to protecting residents from the harms of tobacco, giving the state two Fs, a B, and an A. (Tobacco Prevention and Control Funding, F; Smoke free Air, A; Cigarette Tax Rate, B; and Coverage of Cessation Treatments and Services, F.)
AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:44