With youth smoking rates having dropped to record lows, why have tobacco sales to minors gone up so dramatically? It’s a question we need answers to after release of a Wisconsin Department of Health Services report showing a 35 percent jump in tobacco sales to kids.
Various groups including Health First Wisconsin, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, and the American Lung Association point to budget cuts in the state’s tobacco prevention program as the primary culprit, along with tobacco tax loopholes that can make some tobacco products like little cigars cheaper and more affordable for young people.
State Representative Garey Bies has authored a bill with bi-partisan support to close the loopholes, and that’s a start. But the state needs to act now to limit affordability and availability of tobacco products to kids so we don’t find usage rates sliding back to even more unhealthy levels.