Monday, October 24, 2016 - 8:28am

Profile Shows Great Progress and Remaining Challenges

Despite significant progress in reducing cigarette use to 17% of the population nationally, tobacco continues to have a disproportionate impact on several groups in our community.  This is one of the highlights of a profile entitled Tobacco and Nicotine Free Living recently released by Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC).
According to Ryan Sheahan, Coordinator of the Tobacco Free Columbia Dane County Coalition (TFCDC) “While the reported overall decreases in tobacco use seem like very good news, a deeper look reveals that smoking and tobacco use rates among several groups remain much higher. As a result these groups have much higher rates of smoking-related diseases.”  
For example, the following data reflect percentages of smokers in each group listed:

  • 28% of the lesbian, gay, and bisexual population
  • 30% of the Native American population
  • 32% of the African American population

 These numbers are in contrast to the much lower overall smoking rate statistics.

  • 17% of Wisconsin adults smoke cigarettes – reflecting a decrease from the 21% reported in 2011
  • Cigarette use among Wisconsin high school and middle school youth are at all time lows – 10.7% and 1.6% respectively – a dramatic reduction from the rates reported fourteen years ago which were 32.9% and 12.1%.  
  • 13% of Dane County adults are smokers, while 5.5% of county high school and 2% of middle school youth smoke.

 “Our data clearly shows we can’t focus on tobacco prevention activities with a one size fits all approach. We need to continue to adapt our approach and work within communities to tailor strategies to help people quit and tackle the root causes of why people start smoking in the first place,” says Sheahan.
The Tobacco and Nicotine Free Living report illustrates that tobacco continues to affect too many Dane County residents.  PHMDC and the TFCDC are dedicating more time and energy towards reducing disparities and increasing health equity. But we can´t do it alone.
For more information about how you can get involved, contact Ryan Sheahan, Coordinator for the TFCDC at
(608) 242-6297 or
Click the title below to see a copy of the report:
Tobacco & Nicotine Free Living Issue Brief, October 2016


Health & Safety