Friday, December 14, 2012 - 3:21am

Wisconsin's youth smoking rates have hit an all-time low, showing significant decreases in the last two years, according to a state survey released this week by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

The 2012 Youth Tobacco Survey (YTS) found high school smoking decreased from 17.7 percent in 2010 to 13.1 percent in 2012. Middle school smoking also decreased from 3.9 percent to 2.5 percent in that same time period. The survey was conducted in 40 high schools and 42 middle schools around the state in the spring of 2012.

"Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in our state as well as in Dane and Columbia County, said Bev Jambois, Tobacco-Free Columbia Dane County Coalition (TFCDC) Chair.
What do these youth declines mean for Public Health? According to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids:

- 63,060 fewer kids who currently smoke, - 193,180 fewer kids alive today in WI who will grow up to be addicted adult smokers
- 69,200 fewer of today's kids in WI who will die prematurely from smoking
- $3.4 billion in future health care cost savings
- $486 million in savings of future Medicaid costs

"This decline in youth smoking is the payoff for a decade of commitment to and investment in educating our kids about the dangers of smoking," said Jambois. "It is proof the state's Tobacco Prevention and Control Program, combined with effective tobacco taxes and other tobacco legislation, is saving both lives and money.

These statewide trends are also reflecting local data on reduced youth tobacco use. . According to the 2012 Dane County Youth Assessment, Dane County High School smoking rates are 9.1% and Middle School rates are 3.0%. According to the 2011 Columbia County Youth Risk Behavior Survey, High School smoking rates are 16.5% and Middle School rates are 3.9%. This suggests that we can do better, and that more work needs to be done. The tobacco industry continues to make young people a prime target for marketing efforts, with a wide variety of candy-flavored cigars and smokeless products sold at much cheaper prices than cigarettes. In addition, we must continue to make sure retailers are not selling to minors, and provide cessation resources for those looking to quit. A comprehensive approach has driven youth smoking rates to new lows, and that same approach must continue to ensure Wisconsin, Dane, and Columbia county residents have the opportunity to live healthier lives.
To view the YTS fact sheets, visit


Tobacco Free Columbia-Dane County Coalition


  • Ryan Sheahan(608) 225-3615
  • Bev Jambois(262) 358-1044