Tuesday - July 11, 2017 2:27 am

Smoking an outlier in La Crosse County, but survey says citizens more worried about drugs

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La Crosse County made up of 14.2% tobacco users vs. 3.4% in the U.S.

Public use of tobacco products has gone down sharply in La Crosse County over the last 20 years, so maybe people don't think of smoking as a big problem any more.

According to the La Crosse County Health Dept., however, the number of tobacco users in the county vs. the state and the U.S. is drastic.

In La Crosse County, 14.2 percent use tobacco. Throughout Wisconsin, that number drops to 7.9. In the United States, that percentage drops to just 3.4.

A survey of county residents asking what the biggest health problems are in La Crosse doesn't back up those numbers, however.

Smoking was ranked 13th.

Illegal Drug use, alcohol use and prescription drug use cracked the Top 4. Bullying came in fifth.

La Crosse County health director Jen Rombalski told the county board, at a meeting Monday, that the relatively high number of smokers in the area contribute to increasing costs of medical care.

But that's not to say its the most important issue. The worry about drugs is real, she added. The latest numbers show about nine deaths from drug use in La Crosse County during a typical year and an average of 18 drug arrests a week.

Rombalski also spoke of a local health improvement project planned for the next five years. Its goal is to reduce the stigma of suicide and mental illness.  

Brad Williams

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from U-W-La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area.  Brad writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse.  He's been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.  

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