West Virginia Failing in its Efforts to Reduce Tobacco Use, Finds American Lung Association National Tobacco Report | American Lung Association

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West Virginia Failing in its Efforts to Reduce Tobacco Use, Finds American Lung Association National Tobacco Report

(January 25, 2017) -

For more information please contact:

Ewa Dworakowski
Ewa.Dworakowski@lung.org
717-541-5864 ext. 130

The American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control” Report has found that in 2016 West Virginia failed to do enough to implement proven-effective policies that would save lives. The 15th annual report grades states and the federal government on policies to prevent and reduce tobacco use. The report shows that most states and the federal government earned poor grades. West Virginia has not increased the age of sale for tobacco products to 21 years old.    

“Tobacco use is the leading cause of death and disease in our nation, and 25.7 percent of adults in the state currently smoke. In addition, 40.8 percent of High School students use tobacco,” said Deborah P. Brown,

President and CEO, American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic. “We know what works when it comes to preventing and reducing tobacco use, what we need is West Virginia policymakers to implement the policies and programs called for in ‘State of Tobacco Control’ that would save lives and protect kids from a lifetime of addiction.” 

The “State of Tobacco Control” report documents the progress and failures of the states and the federal government to address tobacco use, and the report assigns grades based on whether federal and state laws protect Americans from the enormous health toll tobacco use takes on lives and the economy. This year, the report has added a new grade on efforts to increase the minimum sales age for tobacco products to 21.

“Close to 95 percent of adult smokers try their first cigarette before the age of 21,” said Brown. “Increasing the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21 will significantly reduce youth tobacco use and save thousands of lives nationwide.” 

This year’s “State of Tobacco Control” finds West Virginia’s failing grades show that much more must be done by our Governor and State Legislature to pass proven-effective policies that will reduce tobacco use and save lives:

  • Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – GradeF
  • Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws - GradeD*
  • Level of State Tobacco Taxes - GradeF
  • Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco - GradeB
  • Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Grade F * Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws: West Virginia has 64.4 percent of the state’s population covered by comprehensive local smokefree workplace regulations. If a state has more than 50 percent of its population covered by local smokefree ordinances/ regulations, the state is graded based on population covered by those local ordinances/regulations rather than the statewide law.

The American Lung Association in West Virginia calls on elected officials to support comprehensive clean indoor air laws at the regional level, and secure tobacco prevention and cessation funding from the general budget.

Beyond efforts to reduce tobacco use rates, the report also looked at secondhand smoke protections in workplaces. While 28 states plus the District of Columbia have passed comprehensive smokefree workplace laws, no state passed a comprehensive law in 2016, and only one state has passed a comprehensive smokefree law since 2011. 

In this year’s “State of Tobacco Control,” the federal government earned an “F” for Food and Drug

Administration (FDA) Regulation of Tobacco Products. Although the American Lung Association applauds the release of the final rule that gave FDA authority over all tobacco products, the report recognizes the Obama

Administration’s failure to proceed with other key initiatives including requiring graphic warning labels on cigarettes and the federal government’s failure to move forward on issuing a rule to end the sale of menthol cigarettes nationwide – despite the recommendations from an FDA expert advisory committee. 

Other federal grades include a “C” for Federal Coverage of Quit Smoking Treatments, an “F” for Level of Federal Tobacco Taxes and a “B” for its Mass Media Campaigns, including the Tips from Former Smokers Campaign.

“It’s not a secret how to reduce tobacco use in this country. ‘State of Tobacco Control’ looks at proven methods to save lives and prevent our children from becoming the next generation hooked on tobacco,” said Brown. “We must demand that West Virginia elected officials urgently act to implement these proven policies that will save lives and prevent tobacco-caused death and disease.”

West Virginia Local Smokefree Regulation Grades

The American Lung Association in West Virginia has evaluated regulations restricting smoking in all 55 West Virginia counties, and assigned them letter grades from A to F based on the strength of the regulation.  The counties and grades are displayed in the chart below. Thirty-four counties earned A grades, 11 earned B grades, 8 earned C grades and 2 counties earned F grades.

An “A” grade means smoking is prohibited in virtually all public places and workplaces, and an “F” grade means protections from secondhand smoke are inadequate or non-existent.

West Virginia’s statewide law received a “D” grade in the American Lung Association’s 2017 “State of Tobacco Control” report.  

For more information please contact Chaste Truman Barclay: 304-342-6600 ext. 314 or Chaste.Barclay@lung.org .

County

Grade

County

Grade

County

Grade

Barbour

A

Kanawha/Charleston

A

Preston

A

Berkeley

A

Lewis

A

Putnam

F

Boone

A

Lincoln

A

Raleigh/Beckley

B

Braxton

A

Logan

C

Randolph

A

Brooke

A

Marion

C

Ritchie

A

Cabell/Huntington

A

Marshall

B

Roane

A

Calhoun

A

Mason

A

Summers

A

Clay

B

McDowell

C

Taylor

A

Doddridge

A

Mercer

C

Tucker

A

Fayette

B

Mineral

A

Tyler

C

Gilmer

F

Mingo

B

Upshur

A

Grant

A

Monongalia

A

Wayne

B

Greenbrier

A

Monroe

A

Webster

B

Hampshire

A

Morgan

B

Wetzel

C

Hancock

A

 Nicholas

A

Wirt

A

Hardy

C

Ohio/Wheeling

B

Wood

A

Harrison

A

Pendleton

A

Wyoming

B

Jackson

B

Pleasants

A

 

 

Jefferson

C

Pocahontas

A

 

 

 

For media interested in speaking with an expert about the “State of Tobacco Control” Report, lung health, tobacco use and tobacco control policies, contact Communications Director Ewa Dworakowski at Edworakowski@lunginfo.org or 717-541-5864 ext. 130. 

 To view the report click here.

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About the American Lung Association in West Virginia

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-5864872) or visit:  Lung.org.

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