Kick Butts Day: Urging smokers to kick the habit

Today, March18, is celebrated annually as “Kick Butts Day,” a day to encourage adultsandyouthtoquitusingtobacco products and support those efforts.

Eliminating tobacco use seemed like an impossible task when the first Surgeon General’s report on smoking came out in 1964. Back then, one in every two people smoked cigarettes and since, we have lowered smoking rates to less than one in five adults or 18 percent. According to the 2014 WI Youth Tobacco Survey the high school smoking rate is at an alltime low of 11 percent as well.

However, despite decreases in actual smoking, the financial cost of smoking continues to increase. Another major concern is that while smoking is down among young people, an alarming number of youth are turning to smokeless tobacco products and e-cigarettes. Electronic or e-cigarettes look and feel like conventional cigarettes but deliver nicotine through water vapor, rather than smoke.

Selling tobacco products to minors is also a concern. To address this, volunteer youth perform regular checks to make sure tobacco retailers aren’t selling tobacco products to minors. In Wisconsin, 6.4 percent of retailers currently sell tobacco products to minors. For 2014 in Sheboygan County, our rate was 5.8 percent, which is below the state average and a significant decrease from 2013, when the rate was 18.4 percent.

Healthy Sheboygan County 2020 believes that by educating tobacco sales personnel through the WI Wins program, we can decrease the sales of tobacco products to youth in our community.

Wisconsin’s combination of a comprehensive tobacco prevention and control program, smoke-free workplace law, and higher tobacco taxes have helped drive youth and adult smoking to all-time lows. Building on Wisconsin’s smoke free bars and restaurants, we are working to go100 percent tobacco-free by adding multiunit housing and campuses.

Today at UW-Sheboygan campus in the commons from 12-1:30 p.m., students and coalition members will participate in a “Kick Butts Day” effort called “I am Not a Replacement,” a project encouraging our next generation to be tobaccofree. A prevention Program called “SPARK” involves students raising awareness and taking action to ignite change by talking about the benefits of a tobacco-free campus.

Another program to prevent tobacco use will be held at the Open Door at1 p.m. offering people help to quit tobacco use. The Open Door serves as a drop-in center for peer support and a recovery center for adults with mental illness.

Check out these websites for more information about WI Wins: www.wiwins. org, for other prevention materials go,orCenters for Disease Control and Prevention

Tobacco users that are ready to quit can call the WI Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW for free help and medications. It’s never too late to quit smoking, and the benefits of quitting are numerous; some of those benefits are lifesaving. For more on local tobacco prevention and control efforts, visit our website at

Elizabeth Abler is a Sheboygan County Public Health Nurse and member of ATODA HSC2020.