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Commercial Tobacco Prevention and Treatment Program: Youth Programs

Tobacco Program: two youths taking selfie

Helping young people live tobacco and nicotine-free

Nearly all commercial tobacco use begins during a person’s teens and young adulthood. Tobacco contains nicotine, a highly addictive drug that causes many young people to progress from smoking or vaping occasionally to smoking or vaping every day.

Prevention is critical. If young people don’t start using commercial tobacco or nicotine by age 26, they will almost certainly never start.

E-cigarette companies target youth with their dangerous and addictive products

Commercial tobacco companies manipulate the amount of nicotine in vapes to get young people addicted.

Vapes include very high levels of nicotine, a highly addictive chemical, at levels equal to or higher than a pack of conventional cigarettes.

Nicotine has an especially negative effect on teens’ mental health.

In 2014, 10.7% of youth smoked cigarettes, and 7.9% used e-cigarettes. In 2018, 4.7% of youth smoked cigarettes and 20.1% used e-cigarettes. In 2022, 1.8% of youth smoked cigarettes and 10.5% used e-cigarettes.

Levels of Wisconsin youth e-cigarette use

Wisconsin youth are heavily targeted by e-cigarette companies, and that marketing caused a major spike in youth e-cigarette use between 2014 and 2018. Wisconsin has been working hard to undo this spike in youth nicotine addiction. Wisconsin reduced high school cigarette smoking rates from 33% in 2000 to 1.8% in 2022, and middle school cigarette smoking rates from 12% in 2000 to less than 1% in 2022.

However, the use of e-cigarettes (or vapes) is still high among high school students. In 2022, 10.5% of Wisconsin high school students used e-cigarettes. This is comparable to teen conventional cigarette use in 2014 —and translates to a decade of lost progress and a whole new generation addicted to nicotine.

The 2022 Wisconsin Youth Tobacco Survey High School Fact Sheet, P-01624 (PDF) includes more data about youth tobacco and nicotine use.

Policies that work

Wisconsin has a vibrant commercial tobacco prevention and control movement. Local coalitions throughout the state engage with people of all ages and backgrounds to limit the dangerous effects of tobacco and nicotine use on individuals, families, and entire communities. Everyone in Wisconsin can play a role in helping keep young people tobacco- and nicotine-free. Connect with your local coalition to get involved.

Text reads: "Restricting all flavors, including menthol."
Text reads: "Comprehensive tobacco-free school policies"
Text reads: "Tax increases on e-cigarettes (vapes)"
Text reads: "Tobacco product price increases"
Text reads: "Closing the tax loophole on little cigars"
Tobacco Program graphic with text "Ask college campuses to go tobacco-free"
Text reads: "Licensing vape shops"
Text reads: "Including e-cigarettes in Wisconsin's smoke-free law"
Text reads: "Move all tobacco products behind the counter"

Programs for teens and young adults

Hand holding a smart phone with the FDA logo on the screen

Become an FDA underage purchaser

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) underage purchasers conduct tobacco compliance checks to make sure tobacco retailers are following the law and not selling tobacco to underage customers. The federal tobacco sales age is 21. Underage purchasers are supervised by an adult FDA Inspector during the process.

  • Applicants must be between 16-20 years old. This program is for Wisconsin residents only.
  • Applicants must complete mandatory online training and submit all required paperwork.
  • FDA underage purchasers are paid $15.50/hour to conduct tobacco compliance checks after school, on weekends, during the summer break, and holidays.
  • Underage purchasers will not need to travel for this position. An adult FDA inspector will pick them up and drive them to where the checks will occur.
  • To remain anonymous, underage purchasers will not conduct checks in their same town or neighborhood.
  • To apply for consideration, complete the FDA Underage Purchaser Screening Application. Upon receipt, an adult FDA inspector will be in contact to discuss next steps in the application process.

The Tobacco Compliance Check Program is funded by the FDA to protect the health of future generations.

For more information, contact Jill McCormick, FDA state program coordinator, Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention and Control Program, at or call 608-266-1440.

Apply to be an underage purchaser

WI Wins

Preventing underage tobacco and vape sales

Wisconsin Wins is a statewide program established in 2002 to help reduce tobacco sales to Wisconsin minors. Underage sales went from 33.7% in 2001 to 5.5% in 2019. However, retailer inspections were halted during the pandemic, and the federal tobacco legal sales age was raised from 18 to 21 in late 2019. As a result, underage tobacco and vape sales rose sharply and as of 2023 they are 13.6%. The Wisconsin Wins program is back in full operation. It uses an effective mix of retailer outreach and oversight to keep teens and young adults away from commercial tobacco and vape products by:

  • Partnering with local law enforcement to conduct unannounced inspections at tobacco retail outlets to track Wisconsin retailer compliance with the federal tobacco 21 sales law. Visit WI Wins to see the local youth access rate in your county.
  • Providing, a free training and educational resource that helps retailers understand how to comply with the law. Training resources are available at
  • Engaging in community outreach and education to communicate the importance of preventing underage tobacco sales. Learn more about the federal tobacco 21 law at Tobacco 21.

For more information, contact Nancy Michaud, Youth Access Program Coordinator, Wisconsin Commercial Tobacco Prevention and Treatment Program, at or call 608-266-0181.

Visit WI Wins

FACT logo

Youth Advocacy

FACT, Wisconsin’s youth tobacco prevention movement, empowers more than 1,000 young people in grades 7-12 in about 20 groups throughout the state to spread the truth about tobacco and nicotine. FACT members lead advocacy initiatives including peer-to-peer education, media outreach, and meeting with state and local leaders. It is a great opportunity for young people interested in civic engagement, pre-law, health careers, and/or those who have a specific experience with tobacco and nicotine that inspires change. Members' efforts have helped reduce youth tobacco and vape use and have played an integral part in changing community and statewide policy. The movement is managed by the American Lung Association and is designed to reduce the burden of tobacco and nicotine among young people in Wisconsin.

For more information, visit FACT or contact Zoe Hurdle, Health Promotions Specialist for the American Lung Association, at or call 262-703-4833.

Visit FACT

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction logo

Tobacco and nicotine prevention, intervention and cessation in schools

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) provides training and support to schools that seek to implement CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines for school health programs to help prevent tobacco and vape use and addiction. Schools can also get assistance to craft tobacco-and nicotine-free school policies.

For assistance with these policy and programmatic issues, contact Meg Whaley, Physical Education and Health Education Consultant at the Wisconsin DPI, at or call 608-267-4597.

American Lung Association logo

Not On Tobacco® (N-O-T)

Started in 1998, N-O-T is an evidence-based program designed for teens aged 14-19 who wish to quit their nicotine addiction. The program, a 10-session curriculum led by trained adult facilitators, takes a holistic approach and covers the entire quitting process, including the prevention of relapses. Young people who want to access N-O-T online can visit, the ALA recently developed NOT for Me, a voluntary, self-paced online cessation program.

For more information about this program, contact Kim Larson, Health Promotions Manager for the American Lung Association in Wisconsin, at or call 262-395-1276.


American Lung Association logo


INDEPTH, or Intervention for Nicotine Dependence: Education, Prevention, Tobacco and Health, is an alternative to suspension or citation program for young people. INDEPTH is taught by a trained adult in four 50-minute sessions. Each session addresses a different tobacco- or vape-related issue and can be facilitated either one-on-one or in a group setting. The goal is to educate students about nicotine dependence and cravings and ultimately guide them through the process of identifying their own reasons for chewing, smoking or vaping tobacco products.

For more information about this program, contact Kim Larson, Health Promotions Manager for the American Lung Association in Wisconsin, at or call 262-395-1276.

SPARK logo

Tobacco-free college campus efforts

Visit Spark, a Wisconsin-wide program that helps college campuses pass tobacco- and nicotine-free policies and educate campus communities that tobacco abuse, in any form, can be deadly. SPARK offers students, faculty, and staff a platform and an opportunity to be an advocate for policies that ignite change on their campus.

For more information about Spark, contact Kaylee Wagner, Health Promotions Coordinator for the American Lung Association in Wisconsin, at or call 262-923-2743.

Visit Spark

Up-to-date information for parents and young adults

Tobacco is Changing Logo

The next generation of tobacco and nicotine products doesn’t look anything like a pack of cigarettes. Tobacco is Changing is a reliable source of information about today’s ever changing array of addictive tobacco and nicotine products that are marketed to children and teens. The information helps parents and other trusted adults have informed discussions with young people about these dangerous products and predatory marketing tactics. Tobacco is Changing was first created in Wisconsin in 2018 and has been since been adopted by many other states across the U.S.

Visit Tobacco is Changing

 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

American Indian Quit Line

Culturally tailored coaching
Ages 18+
 American Indian Quit Line 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 May 13, 2024