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Wisconsin criticized for failing to discourage smoking in report


MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The American Lung Association loves Wisconsin’s public indoor smoking ban – and the fact that smokers must give two-and-a-half dollars to the government for every pack of cigarettes they buy.

But the group says Wisconsin does little to encourage smokers to quit – and it spends a relative pittance to discourage folks from starting to smoke.

Those conclusions are part of the Lung Association’s annual “State of Tobacco Control” report that’s being released Wednesday. It gives Wisconsin a grade of “F” for the $7.5 million a year the state spends on tobacco prevention. That’s only 11.5 percent of what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends.

The state also got an “F” for its overall smoking cessation efforts. Among other things, Wisconsin was criticized for not making private insurers cover stop-smoking treatments.

The Badger State did get an “A” for its two-and-a-half-year-old ban on smoking in workplaces, including bars and restaurants. And Wisconsin’s cigarette tax of $2.52 a pack got a grade of “B.” 

Luke Witkowski, Tobacco Program Manager of the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest, says it's a funding issue.

"Our program is funded at just pennies compared to what the tobacco industry spends to market their products in Wisconsin," says Witkowski. "Since 2000, our overall program funding has been reduced each year."