The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently released the 2019 County Health Rankings. The annual County Health Rankings measure vital health factors in nearly every county in America to provide a snapshot of how health is influenced by where we live, learn, work and play.

By analyzing the data, communities can identify health factors of concern in their area, focus on strategies known to be beneficial, collaborate with each other, and make changes that will have a positive and lasting impact on health.

The County Health Rankings measure the following tobacco-related data:

Adult smoking

Seventeen percent of adults in Vernon County report that they currently smoke every day or most days and have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime.

Cigarette smoking is identified as a cause of various cancers, cardiovascular disease, respiratory conditions, as well as low birthweight and other adverse health outcomes.

Smoking during pregnancy

Eight percent of mothers in Vernon County reported smoking during pregnancy. Smoking during pregnancy results in negative health effects for both the mother and infant, such as an increased risk of miscarriage and low birthweight of the baby.

Rural populations are more heavily impacted by tobacco use than populations living in urban areas. According to the American Lung Association, people living in rural communities are more likely to use tobacco, more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke, and less likely to have access to programs that help them. Yet, rural communities have limited access to resources and may lack the capacity to use effective strategies for tobacco prevention and control.

With the County Health Rankings reporting Vernon County’s population as 85.7 percent rural, it is clear that further efforts to address the disparity for rural communities are necessary.

The 7C’s Health Initiative works collaboratively to improve the health of citizens living in the counties of Buffalo, Trempealeau, Jackson, Monroe, La Crosse, Vernon and Crawford so that they may live long, healthy lives, free from tobacco and nicotine regardless of their income, education, or ethnic background.

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