West Virginia received an “F” grade in the annual American Lung Association’s ‘State of Tobacco Control’ Report. The report highlights state expenditure on tobacco cessation programs, taxes and resident access to cessation services.
The report calls on West Virginia lawmakers to enact policies such as an increased tobacco tax and more funding for state prevention programs.
Tobacco, the authors write, remains the nation’s leading cause of preventable death and disease and West Virginia is particularly affected. According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, annual tobacco-related deaths in West Virginia are around 3700. Comparatively, opioid-related deaths are around 900 a year.
Yet tobacco use rates here are among the highest in the nation -- for both adults and youth. And the current vaping epidemic is compounding the problem, they say.
The report also calls out funding discrepancies. West Virginia received more than 235 million dollars from tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes, yet the state only funds control efforts at 7 percent of the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from Marshall Health and Charleston Area Medical Center.