CHARLESTON, W.Va. – According to data from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), Bureau for Public Health a significant decline has been achieved in the number of adults who smoke in West Virginia. Evaluation of data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS) by DHHR’s Health Statistics Center indicates a statistically significant decrease has occurred in the number of current adults who smoke from 28.6% in 2011 to 24.8% in 2016.
“This decline in the number of adults who smoke is the first evidence that never-smoking middle and high school students who are aging into the adult population are finally making an impact on the larger adult population,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, State Health Officer and Commissioner of the DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health. “This is a significant milestone for West Virginia’s public health efforts and gives cause to acknowledge, although we still have a long way to go.”
Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Smoking-related illness is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States accounting for more than 480,000 deaths nationally and nearly 4,300 deaths in West Virginia.
“Comprehensive programs reduce long-term tobacco-related disease,” said Bruce Adkins, director of the DHHR’s Office of Community Health Systems and Health Promotion. “Sustained best practices do have even greater healthy gains, and lead to compelling returns on investment. There is a likely correlation of this decrease being the first evidence we have that lower smoking rates among youth due to programs such as Raze are making an impact.”
Other factors health officials credit to helping reduce the adult smoking rate are:
comprehensive clean indoor air regulations
cigarette tax increases
readily available, no-cost tobacco cessation quitline services
To learn more about smoking cessation efforts in West Virginia go to www.dhhr.wv.gov/wvdtp. For information about how to stop smoking call the West Virginia Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QuitNow.