Urge Legislators to Fund Tobacco Prevention

The use of tobacco and tobacco-related products continues to be a serious public health risk in West Virginia. Our state remains at the top of national tobacco use prevalence rates in virtually every category which results in high health care costs, lower worker productivity and, most importantly, leads to the death of over 4300 West Virginians a year.

Over the past several years the funding dedicated to tobacco use eduction, cessation and prevention has been reduced by 45%. Even at the height of state funding West Virginia has never reached the level of funding recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address this serious health issue.

While the funds have been limited, the Department of Tobacco Prevention has made significant progress through community-based programs, cessation services and has led to the reduction of youth tobacco prevalence in high school students from 38.5% in 2000 to 16.2% in 2015.

Legislators should be strongly urged to continue to fund tobacco prevention and education programs at the FY 2017 level. To further reduce this line item beyond what has already been cut in recent years will cripple the tobacco program and will negatively impact every community in the state – including their district.

The Coalition for a Tobacco-Free West Virginia, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and American Lung Association stand strongly in urging you to contact your members of the West Virginia House of Delegates and Senate and urge them to fund tobacco prevention programming so that these services essential to public health in West Virginia continue.

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