LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - Making the healthy choice the easy choice is the goal of a group called Transform Wisconsin.
Transform Wisconsin released a new survey that found 66 percent of people in the state and 69 percent of people in the La Crosse area are concerned about young people using tobacco.
Susan Lundsten, Wellness Education Specialist, Gundersen Health System said many people reach for a pack of cigarettes out of habit and don't even realize they're smoking.
"Nicotine itself is addictive," Lundsten said. "If we look at why people continue to use tobacco and if we ask smokers do you want to quit 70-percent of smokers say they do want to quit."
She said one way to help them quit is by increasing the cost of cigarettes.
3.5 percent more people quit smoking with a 10 percent price increase.
"People are tired of paying that money out of pocket for something that they're tied to like a ball and chain," Lundsten said.
"Wisconsin has worked really hard to protect kids from smoking and secondhand smoke through the smoke-free air law and cigarette taxes, but they are too-often faced with shiny new tobacco products that are inexpensive and candy-flavored," Dona Wininsky, Director of Public Policy & Communications, American Lung Association in Wisconsin said. "Closing the tobacco tax loopholes that are making candy-flavored tobacco products so inexpensive will help us keep up with the changing marketplace and protect our kids from a lifetime addiction to tobacco."
The poll also found that nearly nine out of ten Wisconsin residents view childhood obesity as a serious problem. There was near-complete agreement among all populations – men, women, Democrats, Republicans, and residents from all areas of the state – that childhood obesity is a serious problem facing Wisconsin.
76 percent of people are willing to pay more to ensure locally grown fruits and vegetables are served in schools.
"Ultimately it's going to be saving us money because it's going to be less diabetes, less stroke, less heart disease when these kids become adults," Valerie Pampuch, Registered Dietitian, Gundersen Health System said.
"Lack of exercise, poor nutrition, and tobacco use threaten the future of our state," Maureen Cassidy, Vice President of Advocacy, American Heart Association – Midwest Affiliate said. "If trends continue, this could be the first generation of kids to live shorter lives than their parents. The good news is that we know what works to promote healthier opportunities and we are working hard to promote the common-sense policies that make sure every kid has the opportunity to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, have safe places to exercise, and live a tobacco-free life."
Pampuch said this is only going to work if there is collaboration between what's happening at home and schools.
"Parents eating healthy fruits and vegetables," Pampuch said. "That will indicate to the child, mom and dad like fruits and vegetables. I like fruits and vegetables. When it's also offered at school that also helpful for a child to be introduced to new things."
To read more of the survey findings click here.
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