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Tobacco Prevention and Control Program

Tobacco Program image of three adults smiling at a fourth adult shown in profile smiling at the other three adults.

Commercial tobacco and nicotine products are Wisconsin’s leading causes of preventable death and disease. Every year, they cause our state to lose:

  • 7,900 lives
  • $3.09 billion in health care expenses
  • $5.6 billion in productivity

Learn more about the The Toll of Tobacco in Wisconsin, The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, February 2023.

Global commercial tobacco companies spend $170.2 million per year to market commercial tobacco and nicotine to Wisconsinites.

Menthol in cigarettes is a social justice issue

Menthol is added to cigarettes and other forms of commercial tobacco, which produces a minty flavor and cooling sensation that makes smoke feel less harsh and easier to inhale.

  • Menthol makes tobacco more addictive, easier to start, and harder to quit.
  • For decades, menthol has been historically targeted to different communities, including African Americans, LGBTQ+ groups, low-income populations, and young people.
  • Menthol’s impact on African Americans has been extremely detrimental. Used by 9 of 10 Black smokers in Wisconsin and 85% nationally, menthol is a major contributor to the three leading causes of death for African Americans: heart disease, cancer, and stroke.
  • Tobacco use kills 45,000 African Americans annually in the United States.
  • Research studies show that removing menthol tobacco from the market would save 654,000 lives, including more than 250,000 Black lives, within 40 years.

Learn more about how commercial tobacco companies have historically used menthol to target specific communities at the Tobacco is Changing website.

Smoke-free air is good for Wisconsin

Wisconsin has made great progress towards smoke-free air, but there is much work we can do to create and protect smoke-free environments. Secondhand smoke remains a proven health threat.

  • There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Secondhand smoke from tobacco products is dangerous because it contains hundreds of toxic and cancer-causing chemicals.
  • Exposure to this smoke can cause coronary heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer to those that are exposed. Children are especially susceptible to exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Evidence also shows that secondhand exposure to aerosol from e-cigarettes (vapes) can be harmful, as the aerosols contain nicotine, heavy metals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and ultrafine particulates that are known to cause cancer.

Wisconsinites support smoke-free air

Wisconsin’s smoke-free air law came into effect on July 5, 2010, to protect everyone from the danger of secondhand smoke in indoor public spaces. Wisconsinites still overwhelmingly support this policy. In 2021, 77.6% of Wisconsinites support the prohibition of smoking in most public places, including all workplaces, public buildings, offices, restaurants, and bars. (Source: Wisconsin Behavioral Risk Factor Survey).

  • Wisconsin’s smoke-free air law protects workers and customers from secondhand smoke by prohibiting the smoking of cigars, cigarettes, pipe, or other lighted smoking equipment indoors in most indoor public spaces.
  • E-cigarette products are not currently included in Wisconsin’s smoke-free air law; however, some municipalities have strengthened their smoke-free air ordinances to include these products.

Strengthening and preserving smoke free air laws is the strongest way to protect people from involuntary secondhand smoke exposure.

Additional trusted smoke-free air resources

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation-Electronic Smoking Devices

Explore more resources and get involved

The Tobacco Prevention and Control Program (TPCP) is dedicated to reducing the burden of commercial tobacco and nicotine on Wisconsin’s people and communities. We invite you to learn more and get involved.

Vicki Huntington
Section Chief
Tobacco Prevention and Control Program

Health Equity

Tobacco Program: image of young person wearing glasses

Learn about populations that are especially targeted by Big Tobacco.

Help to Quit

Tobacco Program image of broken cigarette and vape cartridge

Get help to quit commercial tobacco and nicotine.

Youth Programs

Tobacco Program image of two young people taking a selfie

Prevent smoking, vaping, and dipping among young people.

Local Efforts

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Join the movement to usher in systems change.

Tobacco 21

Tobacco Program image of storefront

Understand the law against selling tobacco to anyone under age 21.

Resources and Partners

Tobacco Program image showing three adults looking at a laptop computer

Learn about others in the tobacco-and nicotine-free movement.

 Get free help to quit commercial tobacco and nicotine

Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line

Customized plans and coaching
Ages 13+
 Text "READY" to 34191
 WI Tobacco Quit Line website

Live Vape Free

Text support to quit e-cigarettes
Ages 13-26
 Text "VAPEFREE" to 873373
 Live Vape Free website

First Breath

Support during and after pregnancy
Ages 18+
 First Breath website

The word "tobacco" on this page refers to commercial tobacco, not traditional Native American tobacco.

Traditional tobacco: a sacred medicine for healing; offerings to the Creator; and spiritual gifts to express gratitude, show respect, and ask for prayers or advice. Commercial tobacco ("tobacco"): a corruption of traditional tobacco into dangerous recreational commodities like cigarettes, vapes, and chewing tobacco.

Last revised March 21, 2024