The American Lung Association released it's state of tobacco report Wednesday.
ALA failed West Virginia.
Twenty-two counties across the state earned an A, but six counties including Taylor and Gilmer failed.
The ALA said "West Virginia Policy Makers have failed to make progress in the fight against tobacco use."
"It's very disturbing for the state of West Virginia to receive a report such as this," said Monongalia County Commissioner Tom Bloom. "It's a major concern the state of tobacco and how bad we are failing."
West Virginia received an F in all four categories: tobacco prevention and control programs, smoke free air, cigarette tax and cessation coverage.
Well WVU said tobacco can become an afterthought when drug use and other problems make the headlines.
"There are other issues that get pushed to the forefront which makes complete sense," said health educator Alison Tartaglia. "When you spend more time focusing on prescription drug abuse you may not spend enough time on tobacco use."
The ALA recommends the state increases tobacco tax, increases prevention program funding and prohibits public smoking.
Two-years-ago Monongalia County's county-wide smoking band went into effect. Commissioner Tom Bloom said it was a team effort between municipalities and WVU, and it's that kind of teamwork that the state needs.
"I'm thrilled to see that we're working together in the county, and that was our message was when we went to Charleston. We're starting to speak as one voice now, we realize that when we work together we get more accomplished," said Bloom.
The state's Department of Health and Human Resources reports that teen smoking is on the decline. Well WVU said the misperception of how many teens smoke can slow progress.
"If your perception is that everyone smokes, if you're a former smoker, a social smoker, you're not going to associate negative peer pressure with doing it because your perception is that everyone is doing it," said Tartaglia.
Here is a full copy of the report.
American Lung Association's "State of Tobacco Control 2014"
CHARLESTON, WV -- West Virginia made no progress this past year in reducing tobacco-caused death and disease, according to the American Lung Association's "State of Tobacco Control 2014" report released today.
Less than a week after the release of the new Surgeon General's report on smoking and health, which warns that 5.6 million of today's youth will die from tobacco use unless action is taken, the Lung Association's "State of Tobacco Control 2014" issues an urgent call to action to policymakers across the country to reverse their present course and commit to eliminating tobacco-caused death and disease.
The Lung Association's 12th annual "State of Tobacco Control" report tracks yearly progress on key tobacco control policies at the federal and state level, assigning grades based on whether laws are adequately protecting citizens from the enormous toll tobacco use takes on lives and the economy. The 2014 report highlights the 50th anniversary of the historic 1964 Surgeon General's report that linked smoking to lung cancer and other diseases for the first time.
West Virginia received the following grades for 2013:
F in Funding for Tobacco Prevention and Control Programs
F in Smoke free Air
F in Cigarette Tax
F in Cessation Coverage
"West Virginia policymakers have failed to make progress in the fight against tobacco use in 2013 and have failed to protect the state's citizens from tobacco-caused diseases like lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in West Virginia. Meanwhile, Big Tobacco continued to rob our health and wealth with clever new tactics to lure new youthful smokers," said Deb Brown, president and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic, serving Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and West Virginia.
Tobacco causes an estimated 3,821 deaths in West Virginia annually and costs the state's economy $1,727,637,000 in healthcare and lost productivity, a tremendous burden that West Virginia can ill afford.
For West Virginia, 2013 was another missed opportunity to begin using proven policies to reduce tobacco use and save lives, including smoke free workplace laws, higher tobacco taxes and increased funding for tobacco prevention and quit-smoking programs.
Priorities that must be addressed to improve West Virginia's "State of Tobacco Control" grades in 2014 include:
• Increasing tobacco prevention and control program funding. The Lung Association worked hard to get a $5.26 million budget for tobacco cessation and education programming in fiscal year 2014. This is a slight decrease from $5.65 million in fiscal year 2013.
• Increasing the excise tax on cigarettes and establishing clean indoor air regulations at the local level. Identical bills were introduced in the West Virginia State Senate and House of Delegates to increase West Virginia's cigarette excise tax by $1 per pack with some proceeds directed to tobacco control and other health-related programs. Despite overwhelming public support, neither tax bill was passed.
• Prohibiting smoking in all public places and work places. The Lung Association's local and statewide coalitions have been making steady progress through the enactment of county-level clean indoor air regulations and the use of prevention and cessation funding. All 55 counties have secondhand smoke regulations in place, and 20 of those counties prohibit smoking in virtually all public places and workplaces.
"The following have been proven to reduce tobacco use: smoke free workplace laws; high tobacco taxes; funding of tobacco prevention and quit-smoking programs; and insurance coverage for quit-smoking treatments. All that is missing in West Virginia is the political will from our elected officials," said Brown.
"The 2014 Surgeon General's report provides irrefutable evidence that elected officials hold the key to ending death and disease caused by tobacco use," said Brown. ‘"State of Tobacco Control 2014" provides the blueprint to our nation's policymakers on how they can save millions of lives from lung cancer, COPD and other tobacco-caused death and disease."
There is some good news: "The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Division of Tobacco Prevention has found that the rate of teen smoking in our state has dropped dramatically in recent years," says Jay Wildt, leadership board chair for the American Lung Association in West Virginia. "So a number of our teens are not smoking. But how can we say this is an accomplishment when these young people are still surrounded by adult smokers and the unclean air that follows them?"
Fifty years ago on January 11, 1964, the Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health linked smoking to lung cancer, COPD and other diseases for the first time. These diseases are still killing over 480,000 Americans each year. Especially tragic is the fact that since the 1964 Surgeon's General's Report, 20 million Americans have died because of smoking.
"Despite great strides in reducing smoking rates in America, tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and illness in the U.S.," said Brown. "The new Surgeon General's report has linked smoking to nearly all organs of the body and causes: heart and lung disease; stroke; cancer of the liver, lung and colon; diabetes mellitus; rheumatoid arthritis; impaired fertility; erectile dysfunction; and age-related macular-degeneration. We must renew our commitment to stopping tobacco from robbing another generation of Americans of its health and future. We cannot afford another 50 years of tobacco use."
Tobacco Industry Stays One Step Ahead
"State of Tobacco Control 2014" finds that the tobacco industry continued its ruthless pursuit of addicting new, young users, and keeping current users from quitting in 2013. This included efforts at the federal and state levels to exempt their products from meaningful public health protections.
The three largest cigarette manufacturers continued their aggressive expansion into tobacco products other than cigarettes in 2013, including smokeless tobacco, cigars and now e-cigarettes. A recent CDC study showed that the use of e-cigarettes among youth doubled from 2011 to 2012. There is no federal oversight of these products, and the e-cigarette industry is pulling its marketing tactics from Big Tobacco's playbook by using celebrity spokespeople to glamorize its products, making unproven health claims, encouraging smokers to switch instead of quit, and creating candy- and fruit-flavored products to attract youth.
"We are faced with a deep-pocketed, ever-evolving tobacco industry that's determined to maintain its market share at the expense of our kids and current smokers," said Brown. "State and federal policymakers must battle a changing Big Tobacco and step up to fund programs and enact policies proven to reduce tobacco use."
Three Bold Goals:
In advance of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Surgeon General's report, the American Lung Association and its partners called for action by all levels of government to achieve three bold goals:
• Reduce smoking rates, currently at about 18 percent, to less than 10 percent within 10 years;
• Protect all Americans from secondhand smoke within five years; and
• Ultimately eliminate the death and disease caused by tobacco use.
"If these goals are to be realized and lives are to be saved, federal and state governments must enact these lifesaving policies," said Brown. "Our nation cannot afford the health or financial consequences of failing to act."
"I urge everyone in the Mountain State to join the American Lung Association in West Virginia and renew their commitment to preventing another 50 years of tobacco-caused death and disease," said Brown.
Learn more and what you can do to help at www.stateoftobaccocontrol.org.
West Virginia County Smoke free Regulation Grades
In addition to grading the state, 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.
Twenty-two counties earned A grades, 17 earned B grades, 10 earned C grades and the remaining 6 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 an "F" grade in the American Lung Association's 2014 State of Tobacco Control report.
For more information please contact Chantal Fields with the American Lung Association in West Virginia at 304-342-6600, x12.