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Support funding helps make drug-free areas

Chippewa Health Improvement Partnership, in collaboration with the Chippewa County Department of Public Health, has received a Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program Grant. The award is for $625,000 over five years, with the possibility of an extension to 10 years.

The DFC grant provides support to focus efforts on preventing youth alcohol and tobacco use, by working with schools, parents, youth and other community partners, on changing the culture and perceptions of harm of these substances in Chippewa County.

According to a 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 33 percent of Chippewa County high school students and 8 percent of Chippewa County middle school students, have reported vape/juul/or e-cigarette use in the past 30 days, and an even greater number (33 percent high school, 35 percent middle school) of students perceive tobacco to not be a moderate or great risk of harm.

Knowing the risk tobacco use poses for youth, this is very concerning information. Through the collaborative efforts of the DFC grant, the health department will work to increase youth knowledge of the dangers of tobacco use, through social media, focus groups, and interactive displays and activities.

One prevention strategy is reducing youth access to tobacco products. The statewide WI WINS campaign is a sciencebased strategy to decrease youth access to tobacco products and help retailers avoid fines. By limiting access of tobacco products at retail establishments and ensuring that retailers are checking identification, the department can reduce availability and create a healthier community.

Throughout the year, the Chippewa County Department of Public Health conducts youth tobacco compliance checks, to reinforce the law and provide education to retailers.

Last December, the federal minimum age of the sale of tobacco products, was raised from 18 to 21 years. It is now illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product, including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes/e-liquids to anyone under 21.