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State does poorly at protecting residents from tobacco, report says

By Staff reports

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The state of West Virginia has not done enough to protect resident from tobacco-caused disease and death, according to a new report from the American Lung Association.

The ALA's "State of Tobacco Control" tracks state and federal policies and assigns grades based on whether laws are adequately protecting citizens, according to a news release from the association.

In the state rankings, West Virginia received an "F" in every category, including funding for tobacco prevention and control programs, smoke free air, cigarette taxes and cessation coverage.

More than 3,800 West Virginians die each year due to tobacco-related causes, according to the report. Tobacco also costs the state economy $1.7 billion in health-care costs and lost productivity, the report states.

West Virginia receives $231 million each year in tobacco-related revenue, but only invests 28 percent of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends should be spent on prevention and cessation programs, according to the report.

"West Virginia failed to invest adequately in the fight against tobacco use in 2012," Deb Brown, president and CEO of the American Lung Association, said in a written statement. "Meanwhile Big Tobacco was busy honing clever new tactics to lure new youth [to smoke]."

The report also assigns grades for each county in the state based on the strength of their smoke-free regulations.

Counties with "A" grades prohibit smoking in almost all public places and workplaces. An "F" grade means there are inadequate or non-existent protections from secondhand smoke.

Twenty state counties received "A" grades, 19 received "B" grades, 10 had "C" grades and the remaining six got "F" grades.

Kanawha County earned an "A," while Putnam County got an "F." The entire report can be found online at http://www.stateoftobaccocontrol.org/.


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