The Upward Rise of E-Cigarette Smoking in Wisconsin
9 years ago on June 5, 2010, Wisconsin enacted the Smoke Free Air Law. The sweeping legislation forbade smoking in a number of locations including places of employment, public places, and enclosed places. Smoking was only permitted in private residences or tobacco bars. The law defined smoking as the lighting of a cigarette, cigar, or pipe. Individual violations of the law carried hefty fines of $100 to $250. The law also gave local administrators the right to further implement the law by further restricting tobacco use in more places. Today, there are many successes that can be attributed to the Smoke Free Air Law including the decline of tobacco users. Currently, the rate is down to 16% for adults and 5% for youth. This is a cause for celebration among health advocates.
However, this groundbreaking legislation failed to take into account e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes are battery-power nicotine vaping tools. They are also called vapes, e-hookahs, vape pens, or electronic nicotine delivery systems. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services 2018 Youth Tobacco survey, electronic cigarette is significantly increasing. Among teens, the rates have increased nearly 154% from 2014 to 2018. Studies show time and time again that nicotine and all the associated chemicals in e-cigarettes are harmful for brain, lung, and heart health. E-cigarettes are alternatives for former tobacco smokers. However, the flavors and sleek design may lure teenagers who are not already tobacco users. Researchers also attribute commercials and advertisement as to why teens are picking up the e-cigarette. Within Wisconsin, the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Cancer Action Network, and the American Lung Association are working to increase the legal age from 18 to 21 for e-cigarettes. Researchers and public health advocates would like to see the Smoke Free Air Law expanded to include e-cigarettes.
Wisconsin lawmakers are also capitalizing on this recent significant upward trend of e-cigarette use. In the early 90s and 2000s, Wisconsin lawmakers heavily relied on traditional cigarette for revenue according to the Wisconsin Policy Forum. Now, that tobacco use has declined, lawmakers have shifted their attention to taxing e-cigarettes. The new tax, signed by Governor Tony Evers, will impose a 5-cent-per-mililiter tax on e-cigarette fluid. The new tax on e-cigarettes in Wisconsin is expected to collect $5.5 million in revenue over the next two years. The tax is also intended to discourage overall e-cigarette smoking use. 20 other states have also chosen to tax e-cigarettes.
- “Report: New State Tax on E-Cigarettes in Wisconsin Among Lowest in US.”
- “With Wisconsin’s Smoke Free Air Law successful in reducing tobacco usage, health advocates take on e-cigarettes”
- “Wisconsin’s Statewide Smoke‐Free Air Law State Statute 101.123, Wisconsin Act 12”