Decrease in Smoking Rates & More Smoke-Free Venues

November was a busy month for our partners in Tobacco Prevention and Control. WI Department of Health Services released the new all-time low smoking rate for Wisconsin, but not without some reservations, and smoke-free public housing may be on the horizon nationwide due to a US Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed rule. Finally, the Great American Smokeout (November 19) inspired several Wisconsin colleges to go smoke-free for 1 day, joining the 24 campuses that already have permanent smoke-free policies. Read below for more details.

Smoking is down statewide, but new numbers show tobacco affects some more than others

This year, there’s good news and bad news when it comes to tobacco use in Wisconsin. The good news is that according to new data from the state’s Department of Health Services, overall smoking in Wisconsin sits at an all-time low of 17%. The bad news? The same data show Wisconsin’s most vulnerable populations smoking at alarming rates.

The Department’s 2014 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) reports that the following groups smoke at rates nearly double the state average of 17%:

  • Individuals earning an income of less than $24,000
  • Individuals with less than a high school degree
  • African Americans
  • Individuals enrolled in Medicaid

For more information, visit

Smoke-free public housing on the horizon

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a proposed rule this month to require Public Housing Authorities to implement smoke-free policies in all public housing properties to protect the health and safety of all residents. The proposed rule is open for public comment for 60 days. HUD encourages comments and they can be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal.

Smoke-Free College Campuses & the Great American Smokeout

Marquette University, UW-Whitewater, UW-La Crosse, and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical Colleges in Ashland, New Richmond, and Rice Lake became smoke-free campuses for 1 day on November 19, 2015 for the Great American Smokeout. Twenty-four college campuses in Wisconsin have permanent tobacco-free policies, while twenty-five college campuses are working towards policies. For more information, visit

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