What is Tobacco Free Wichita?
The Tobacco Free Wichita Coalition is the oldest coalition of its kind in Kansas. For 40 years, residents of Wichita and some of the surrounding communities have worked together faithfully to reduce the harm associated with tobacco use. As a result of Coalition efforts, Wichita has been a leader statewide for clean indoor air policies:
- 1980: TFW helped the Sedgwick County Health Department become the first smoke-free workplace in Wichita followed by all city and county-controlled buildings.
- 1980’s: the two major shopping malls, Towne East and Towne West also adopted smoke-free policies assisted by TFW.
- 1994: The City of Wichita worked closely with TFW to adopt a Youth Access Ordinance. This ordinance prohibited the sale of tobacco to minors and requiring a license for all tobacco retailers; thus, allowing the City to complete compliance checks to look for youth tobacco sales.
- August 2005: TFW approached the Wichita City Council to request consideration of a clean indoor air ordinance. Consideration of an ordinance by the Council was deferred.
- 2007: TFW approached the Wichita City Council again to request consideration of a clean indoor air ordinance.
- September 4, 2008: A compromise clean indoor air ordinance was adopted was put into effect.
- July 2, 2010: TFW worked with coalitions across the State of Kansas to encourage legislators to enact the Kansas Clean Indoor Air Act, which prohibits smoking in most public spaces across the state.
- Jan-May, 2014: TFW conducted a store audit to look at retail practices of the tobacco industry in the Greater Wichita Area which found that the number of tobacco retail outlets, proximity to schools, and practices such as outdoor menthol advertising are all higher in lower income zip codes.
Goals of Tobacco Free Wichita:
Research has identified a number of effective strategies that will contribute to ending the tobacco use epidemic. Looking at over 45 years of evidence Tobacco Free Wichita supports programs and policy that significantly reduce the toll tobacco use takes on Kansas families and communities by:
- Controlling access to tobacco products, especially for youth.
- Reducing tobacco product advertising and promotion.
- Calling for full funding of tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
- Continuing to strengthen comprehensive tobacco-free policies.
- Encouraging and assisting tobacco users to quit.
- Increasing the price of tobacco products.
Why Get Involved?
Tobacco still remains the number one preventable cause of diseases and death in Kansas. Smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined; 3,800 Kansas adults die annually from smoking. The annual health care costs in Kansas directly caused by smoking is $1.12B. The annual cost to Medicaid is $196M. As taxpayers, we pay approximately $576 per household related to smoking-caused government expenditures that are passed on to us each year.
Amounts do not include health costs caused by exposure to secondhand smoke, smoking-caused fires, spit tobacco use, or cigar and pipe smoking. Other non-health costs from tobacco use include residential and commercial property losses from smoking-caused fires (more than $500 million per year nationwide); and additional smoking productivity losses ($906M in Kansas). (Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, 2014).
Approximately 80% of our residents in Wichita are non-smokers. Help us support our current smoke-free law and policies as a well as a comprehensive approach to reducing tobacco use and prevent new use by raising a smoke-free generation.
Tobacco Free Wichita Coalition meets quarterly from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. at the Kansas Food Bank – Cargill Cares Complex (1919 E. Douglas). Meetings will include trainings and special guest speakers, as well as committee and legislative updates.