LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) – Local universities and health systems met at Viterbo University for a public health forum on eliminating tobacco use across the state.
Area organizations hosted a public health forum on Monday morning in the hopes of eliminating tobacco use in Wisconsin. Keynote speaker, Dr. Michael Fiore of the University of Wisconsin Medical School, highlighted strategies to end smoking. His ideas included higher taxes on cigarettes, less smoke friendly areas and raising the age to legally purchase tobacco to 21 years old.
The most recent report from 2018 says that tobacco sales to minors in Wisconsin has dropped from 7.1% in 2017 to 5.8% in 2018. La Crosse County also saw a decrease in smokers during that time. While the state has made significant progress, Dr. Fiore says we have a long way to go.
“Tobacco remains the leading preventable cause of illness and death in Wisconsin,” Fiore said. “Through policy changes, through clinical intervention we can help more people quit and protect kids from becoming exposed. It’s a great time to work at eliminating tobacco dependence from our society.”
The organizations that hosted the event included Viterbo, Western, UW-La Crosse, La Crosse County Health Department, Gundersen Health System, Mayo Clinic Health System and the Scenic Rivers Area Health Education Center. Legislators including State Senator Jennifer Shilling were also in attendance.