-West Virginia is failing to adequately fund the fight to prevent citizens from using tobacco according to the American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control 2013 report.
The state received a “F” across the board in four areas the study covers: in funding for tobacco prevention and control programs, in smoke free air, in cigarette taxes and in cessation coverage.
Vice President of Mission for the American Lung Association Chantal Fields said a better job can be done at the government level.
“There are some steps that they should be taking to help the prevention of tobacco use among kids and to protect our citizens from second hand smoke,” said Fields. “We do not have adequate budget in this state to do the things that are necessary for prevention.”
West Virginia receives $231 million in tobacco-related revenue annually, but only invests $5.7 million to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to be spent on tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
That amount is well below the $27.8 million investment the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends.
“When you consider that tobacco is costing the state about $690 million a year just in health care costs for smokers, the $27.8 that we should be getting is pennies comparatively,” said Fields.
Fields adds that the $27.8 million would also do a great deal in lowering the health care costs the state incurs each year for smokers.
The report also rated tobacco prevention efforts on the county level as well and Fields said the results were a little better there.
“Some of our counties have done a wonderful job and have comprehensive clean indoor air regulations that cover restaurants , bars, work sites, everything,” said Fields. “Other counties have regulations in place but they are not quit as comprehensive.”
In this report, twenty counties earned “A” grades, 19 earned “B” grades, 10 earned “C” grades and the remaining 6 counties received “F” grades.
In order to get the grades up in the state, Fields said better funding for tobacco prevention is needed, more clean indoor air regulations, cigarette taxes and cessation coverage for people.
Tobacco causes an estimated 3,821 deaths in West Virginia annually alone and 443,000 deaths nationwide.
Fields said the American Lung Association urges state lawmakers to do more to adequately protect citizens.