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Data: Adult smoking in Wisconsin at record low

(WAOW) — Smoking rates among adults in Wisconsin have fallen to a record low.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey, the Badger State’s smoking rate dropped to 16% in 2017, after remaining at 17% over the past few years, the DHS said in a news release issued Tuesday.

Fueling the statewide smoking reduction is the group of adults between the ages of 35 and 44. Their percentage dwindled to 19% in 2017 from 24% in 2016, according to the release.

Signs also show that smoking rates may be on the verge of falling for groups that typically have higher rates, such as African-Americans and people on Medicaid, the release adds.

“The hard work by community organizations, health educators, families and young people to provide information about the dangers of smoking, and programs available to help people quit, is making a difference, said State Health Officer Karen McKeown. “We are grateful to all Wisconsin citizens who are helping to reduce tobacco use statewide.”

However, e-cigarette use is increasing in Wisconsin. According to the release, the 2017 BRFSS reports 46% of Wisconsin adults who use e-cigarettes also smoke cigarettes, and 39% of Wisconsin adults who use smokeless tobacco also smoke cigarettes.

Smokeless tobacco can lead to mouth and other cancers, increased heart disease and stroke risk, and cause mouth lesions. E-cigarettes, meanwhile, can include harmful chemicals that can be potentially cancerous.

Additionally, some groups remain at increased risk for tobacco use and its related health problems. The groups include individuals earning less than $24,999 and those with less than a high school degree, with smoking rates of 29% and 28% respectively. People diagnosed with depression are another high use group at 28%.

Certain groups also smoke at higher rates, including (averaged across 2013-2017):

  • American Indian/Alaska Native – 37%
  • Multiracial – 30%
  • Black/African American – 28%
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or who did not identify as heterosexual – 26%

“The Department is committed to helping everyone live their best lives, and being tobacco-free is an important part of that goal,” McKeown said.

Free quit tobacco help is available by calling the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT NOW (784-8669).

Chris Watkins

Social Media & Digital Content Manager

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