Heart disease leading cause of W.Va. deaths
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#1 Feb 18, 2013
Tobacco use, cigarette smoking in particular, continues to take a tremendous toll on West Virginia. More than 3800 West Virginians will die this year of smoking-related diseases, and nearly $1 billion will be spent treating smoking caused illnesses, and another $1 Billion will be spent by businesses on additional occupational costs to smoking.
Well over half of the State's heart disease deaths could be attributed to cigarfette smoking, which harms nearly every organ in the body. An average of 3,770 WV adults age 35 and older die each year from diseases related to cigarette smoking.
About 19% of all deaths (or nearly 1 in 5 deaths) of WV adults age 35 and older are caused by cigarette smoking. Smoking in WV is the cause of 67% of the cancer deaths, and 70% of lung disease deaths among WV adults.
Every long-term WV cigarette smoker who dies loses an average of 14.6 years of life due to premature death! Almost 15 years of potential productivity!
This fiscal year, WV will spend only 25 percent of the amount recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Our leaders need to do more and to focus our resources to bring down smoking rates among West Virginias' most vulnerable.
The State's tobacco taxes and prices are very low compared to the rest of the country. West Virginia spends just a fraction of funds on prevention, cessation. This fiscal year, WV will spend only 25 percent of the amount recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control on tobacco prevention.
A more robust program is needed to help any smoker, tobacco user who wants to quit and to make sure young people and other non-smokers don't ever start. Increasing tobacco product pricing is only one element of a comprehensive strategy that has effectively reduced smoking rates well below the national rate.
Aside from price increases, the CDCís Best Practices strategy includes hard-hitting educational media campaigns, tobacco prevention initiatives, cessation programs, and bold public policy.
It is unethical that the poorest West Virginia residents are paying cigarette, other tobacco product taxes and not getting the most effective help possible to resist tobacco addiction or quit if they've already started. The State needs to implement policies to reduce the tobacco industry's ability to target low-income populations.
High cigarettes taxes are not punitive; they save lives when a portion of the funds go to prevention. It is unacceptable for our most vulnerable to be lured into a lifetime of tobacco addiction by the racketeering, lying tobacco industry.
Every West Virginian, no matter their income, deserves the support and resources to quit their addiction to nicotine-laced products pushed by an unethical industry.
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