Cumberland Times-News

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December 9, 2012

Report: West Virginia tobacco control efforts lacking, state needs to invest more

Has second highest rate of smokers

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia needs to invest more funding in its efforts to help smokers quit and prevent kids from smoking, a coalition of public health groups said in a report released Thursday.

West Virginia has the second highest rate of adults who smoke in the nation at 28.6 percent and 19.1 percent of high school students in the state smoke. But the state ranks 19th in the nation in tobacco prevention and cessation funding, according to the report, titled “Broken Promises to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 14 Years Later.”

The state is spending only 20.5 percent of the amount recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for tobacco prevention and control. West Virginia will receive $231 million this year from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes but only 2.5 percent of this revenue will be spent for tobacco prevention and cessation programs, the report said.

“With its high smoking rate, it is disappointing that West Virginia is not making a greater investment in programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, in a news release. “Even in these difficult budget times, tobacco prevention is a smart investment that saves lives and saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs. States are being truly penny-wise and pound-foolish when they fail to properly fund tobacco prevention programs.”

Most states do not adequately fund tobacco prevention programs. Only Alaska and North Dakota currently fund these programs at the level recommended by the CDC, the report said.

The study was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights.

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