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What We Do

City of Milwaukee Tobacco-Free Alliance

Tobacco use and exposure remains the leading preventable cause of death. Smoking, second-hand smoke, use of other tobacco products, and health disparities are serious problems in the Milwaukee area that pose health risks to both the smoker and surrounding individuals and children.

Our tobacco prevention program is dedicated to promoting health equity and reducing the death and disease caused by tobacco use and exposure in the City of Milwaukee.

In 2010, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services selected the Public Policy Institute to lead Milwaukee’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Program, forming the City of Milwaukee Tobacco-Free Alliance. Through education and community mobilization, we work to eliminate health disparities, highlight the tobacco industry’s marketing tactics, and implement effective tobacco prevention and control policy interventions.  

The City of Milwaukee Tobacco-Free Alliance focuses primarily on a few key areas:

Youth Tobacco Prevention

With 845 tobacco retailers in Milwaukee, many youth have very easy access to tobacco products. We work to reduce youth access to tobacco through WI WINS tobacco retailer compliance checks and involve youth in the statewide FACT movement to conduct peer outreach and community education.

Destiny and Maya from the Neu Life FACT group share how they have been impacted by tobacco in their neighborhoods and in their families. Some Milwaukee neighborhoods have easier access to tobacco than to healthy food, and through Wisconsin Wins, they conduct compliance checks to ensure retailers don't sell to underage youth. For more information see To report the sale of single cigarettes, call 414-935-7430.

Tobacco Is Changing

The City of Milwaukee Tobacco-Free Alliance encourages parents and concerned adults to learn about new nicotine products, including electronic cigarettes, little cigars, and sweet candy flavors. The next generation of addictive tobacco products is here, and most of them don’t look anything like a traditional pack of cigarettes. Learn how to identify these products and talk to the young people in your life by visiting the Department of Health Services' Tobacco Is Changing website.

Smoke-Free Housing

According to the Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System, 51.7% of Wisconsin residents who live in multi-unit housing are not protected from smoke-free housing policies. We partner with the Milwaukee Fire Department and the Milwaukee Housing Authority to conduct Clear Gainstrainings for landlords and residents to promote smoke-free housing. Smoke-free housing reduces exposure to secondhand smoke and improves health outcomes for children and families throughout the city.

Laquita, mother and resident of Westlawn Gardens, shares how she and her children have benefited from smoke-free housing, including fewer ER and doctor visits and a reduced need for an inhaler. 

Reducing/Eliminating Health Disparities in Tobacco Use and Exposure

We collaborate with disparity networks including: the Wisconsin African American Tobacco Prevention Network (WAATPN), Wisconsin Hispanic Latino Tobacco Prevention Network (WHLTPN), and the Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention and Poverty Network (WTPPN) to address tobacco use and exposure among low income individuals and communities of color.

We also have taken the lead in efforts to reduce lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ+) tobacco disparities.

Syd Robinson, Lady J, Montell Infiniti Ross, Chris, Meighan, and RuPaul Drag Race contestant and Milwaukee native Jaymes Mansfield share how tobacco use has impacted their lives.

The City of Milwaukee Tobacco-Free Alliance Fills Several Critical Roles, Including:

We reach out and educate the media, key local and state leaders, and the general public about current tobacco control issues and policy initiatives.

  • We helped implement and continue to monitor adherence to the WI Smoke-Free Air Act throughout Milwaukee, a 2010 statewide law ensuring smoke-free air in bars, restaurants, and all other workplaces in Wisconsin. We also collaborate on the American Lung Association’s Clear Gains initiative to advocate for smoke-free housing. 
  • In 2017, we partnered with the Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services to conduct a smoke-free housing training to over 300 landlords. 
  • We also partnered with the Milwaukee Housing Authority to conduct resident engagement sessions at four buildings as public housing prepares to go smoke-free in July 2018 in accordance with the federal HUD ruling. 
  • In October 2017, we partnered with the Milwaukee Health Department and United Way’s Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families on the Smoke-Free Homes for Strong Babies campaign, which included 20 bus shelter ads throughout the city encouraging residents to have friends and family step outside to smoke to improve the health of pregnant women, infants, and children.   

To get involved, or obtain more information, please contact Charlie Leonard at