Healthy Wisconsin: Tobacco

Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in Wisconsin.


Over the last decade, Wisconsin has made tremendous strides in reducing tobacco use and the public’s exposure to secondhand smoke. But commercial tobacco products keep changing, and tobacco addiction and exposure continues to damage lives and communities throughout our state.

More than 7,700 deaths in Wisconsin are linked to tobacco use or exposure each year. Tobacco products and secondhand smoke lead to a wide range of chronic health problems, including cancer, asthma and heart disease. That costs our state more than $4.5 billion each year in rising healthcare costs and sick days from work.

Some communities are more vulnerable to tobacco use than others. Though fewer Wisconsin youth are smoking, new addictive products have kept the need for tobacco prevention and control programs alive and well. The rise of “smokeless” e-cigarettes is especially concerning; use among teens increased 67% between 2012 and 2014. Other at-risk populations include adults diagnosed with depression (31%) and Medicaid recipients (36%, nearly twice the state average).

Our goals

We can do more to protect vulnerable populations and reduce our communities’ use of and exposure to tobacco. We can work to curb the rising popularity of e-cigarettes and candy­- or fruit-flavored tobacco products among our youth. We can continue to educate youth about tobacco’s dangerous health effects and learn more about the connection between tobacco and ACEs. And we can ensure everyone has the information, services and opportunities they need to make healthy choices.

What's being done

Community coalitions around the state are committed to educate, implement and promote the best practices in tobacco prevention and control. At the same time, state programs such as the Quit Line, First Breath and Not On Tobacco (N.O.T.) are helping people quit, reducing the number of women who smoke during their pregnancy and programs such as Spark are supporting efforts to make Wisconsin’s college campuses tobacco-free. And the Wisconsin Nicotine Treatment Integration Program is focused on ensuring people with mental illness and substance abuse disorders have access to tobacco addiction treatment options.

For more information on the Healthy Wisconsin Action Team’s strategies for reducing tobacco use and exposure by 2020, download the Tobacco report.

ACEs and tobacco.

Our health isn’t determined by genetics alone. Our choices and experiences—especially the experiences we have in childhood—can have a powerful impact on our long-term health. Abuse, neglect and other Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are linked to poorer health and risky behaviors, and the more ACEs a person has, the higher that risk becomes.

There is a strong link between ACEs and tobacco use. Seventy-four percent of smokers have at least one ACE, compared to the 57% of Wisconsin adults who report just one ACE.

It’s important to remember that ACEs may increase the odds of health challenges, but they don’t guarantee poor health or addiction. We will continue to research the connection between ACEs and tobacco and help people find positive ways to deal with life’s challenges and overcome adversity.

Get involved

Find tobacco prevention and treatment support.


Last Revised: May 26, 2021