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The American Lung Association calls for the following actions to be taken by West Virginia's elected officials to reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke:

  1. Increase funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs aligned with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-recommended level;
  2. Preserve local control of smokefree laws throughout the state; and
  3. Eliminate punitive youth possession, use and purchase laws and implement evidence-based policies that deter youth initiation of tobacco products.
Public health advocates were on high alert going into the 2023 legislative session following recent efforts to undermine local smokefree laws by the passage of bills that prevented local boards of health from passing strong regulations. Fortunately, these efforts did not advance, and the Lung Association will continue to track attempts to restrict local communities from protecting public health. Smokefree regulations currently protect over one million West Virginians from the dangers of secondhand smoke; the Lung Association along with the dedication of partner organizations will continue to oppose state preemption and protect local, comprehensive smokefree air laws.

The Lung Association and West Virginias youth tobacco prevention group, Raze, have worked tirelessly to address the high rates of tobacco use in the state along with the skyrocketing e-cigarette use rates amongst young people. Through ongoing education, local and statewide events, youth continue to fight the disproportionately high burden of tobacco across West Virginia. Additional state funding for tobacco control programs could help with these efforts. West Virginia’s state funding of $461,000 is too low given the scale of the problem in the state, and woefully short of the CDC-recommended level of funding. To further prevent youth from starting tobacco or switching products, the Lung Association will also continue to recommend evidenced-based polices to reduce youth tobacco use such as increasing the cigarette tax and equalizing the rates across all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.

The American Lung Association in West Virginia will continue to work with our partners in 2024 to educate lawmakers and the public on the ongoing fight against tobacco through proven policies such as increasing funding for tobacco prevention and control programs, protecting local control of smokefree air laws, and eliminating ineffective punitive policies that fail to address youth initiation of tobacco products.

West Virginia Facts
Healthcare Costs Due to Smoking: $1,008,474,499
Adult Smoking Rate: 21.00%
High School Smoking Rate: 7.60%
High School Tobacco Use Rate: 27.00%
Middle School Smoking Rate: 4.50%
Smoking Attributable Deaths per Year: 4,280
Adult smoking data come from CDC's 2022 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. High school smoking and tobacco use rates are taken from the 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. Middle school smoking rate is taken from the 2017 Youth Tobacco Survey.

Health impact information is taken from the Smoking Attributable Mortality, Morbidity and Economic Costs (SAMMEC) software. Smoking attributable deaths reflect average annual estimates for the period 2005-2009 and are calculated for persons aged 35 years and older. Smoking-attributable healthcare expenditures are based on 2004 smoking-attributable fractions and 2009 personal healthcare expenditure data. Deaths and expenditures should not be compared by state.

West Virginia Information

Learn more about your state specific legislation regarding efforts towards effective Tobacco Control.

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