By Michele Krug
Wood County Health Department
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – The WI Wins program was launched in the spring of 2002 as part of a comprehensive approach to prevent youth access to tobacco. Tobacco compliance checks are performed annually at retailers that hold a current tobacco license or sell a tobacco/nicotine product. It is up to retailers to train their clerks and be educated about the laws pertaining to the sale of tobacco in Wisconsin. Each time a clerk asks to see an ID and refuses a sale to a minor, they could be saving a child from a lifelong addiction of tobacco.
The use of conventional cigarettes has been steadily declining; however e-cigarettes have been gaining in popularity. The Wisconsin Youth Tobacco Survey reports that 87.9 percent of youth think they probably would not or definitely would not try an e-cigarette if it did not have any flavors such as mint, candy, fruit, or chocolate. New research by Pediatrics finds that teenagers, who use e-cigarettes, are exposed to significant levels of potentially cancer-causing chemicals also found in regular cigarettes, even when they do not contain nicotine. These trends, and the fact that 80% of adult users started before the age of 18, shows there is a continued need for the WI Wins program.
The WI Wins program tries to eliminate this risk through consistent checks on retailers who sell tobacco. The program runs year round to help educate retailers on the importance of checking IDs to verify age and eliminate the sale of tobacco to minors. WI Wins provides free retailer training on avoiding underage tobacco sales through www.witobaccochecks.org. The checks include e-cigarettes and other tobacco products, in addition to conventional cigarettes. This is an effective way to reduce illegal tobacco sales to minors and prevent future health consequences.
We should be proud of the strides we’ve made in reducing youth smoking rates, but we must stay committed to protecting kids from all tobacco products. For more information on how to make sure your employees are educated on the law please visit the website www.witobaccochecks.org for free training resources. Healthy People Wood County is collaborating with the Central Wisconsin Tobacco Free Coalition to create a community environment that encourages tobacco and nicotine free living. For more information on how to get involved in Healthy People Wood County please visit: https://healthypeoplewoodcounty.org/.