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WI Doctor Says Kids and Tobacco are a Bad Combination

Dr. Kristin Millin says tobacco companies are targeting children with new products designed to get them hooked.
Dr. Kristin Millin says tobacco companies are targeting children with new products designed to get them hooked.
April 1, 2013

MADISON, Wis. - It may come as a shock to learn that funding for the Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention and Control Program is down to the lowest level in its history. A doctor who treats kids with asthma says more money is needed.

Dr. Kristin Millin with Meriter Health Services says the Wisconsin Asthma Coalition is doing a great job of helping curb tobacco use, but funding is required to keep making it happen.

"A huge part of that has to do with how we affect change with regard to tobacco use. If we lose funding for help with that, it makes it much harder for us to even do our community involvement projects."

It takes money to fight the tobacco industry, which is constantly developing new products that target kids, Millin said.

"They have products out there on the market right now that look like little cigars that come in different candy flavors; there's also products that are supposed to be a 'safer alternative to cigarettes' that are even marketed to children and teenagers; and all of those are contributing to our persistent issue with tobacco products," she said.

According to Millin, even kids with asthma have been known to try these products, thinking they're safer - but she said they're not. She said it is important for people with asthma and their family members to quit smoking.

The doctor described a recent occurrence in her practice where a family that has two kids with asthma came into the clinic to get help for the children, and they all reeked of cigarette smoke.

"We had to shut down the room for the rest of the day," she said, "because we were concerned that the cigarette smoke smell that was still lingering in the room was actually going to trigger another child."

Millin had already discussed with the parents that tobacco smoke is a significant trigger for asthma, and that no amount of smoke is safe for people afflicted with that condition.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI