Pictured, from left, are commission president Kristie Tenney, Dr. Joseph Reed representing the Upshur County Tobacco Prevention Coalition, and commissioners Sam Nolte and Terry Cutright.

Local health official: More than a quarter of West Virginia adults are tobacco users

BUCKHANNON – More than a quarter – 26 percent – of West Virginia adults are tobacco users, according to information provided by one local health official.

Dr. Joseph Reed attended the April 1 Upshur County Commission meeting on behalf of the Upshur County Family Resource Network Tobacco Prevention Coalition to present a proclamation proposing that the commission declare April 1 Take Down Tobacco Day, April 1. Reed is also the medical officer for the Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department.

Reed read the proclamation aloud.

“In 2017, 14 percent of high school students used tobacco and 26 percent used tobacco and/or e-cigarettes in a month,” Reed said. “Most tobacco and e-cigarettes contain nicotine which is addicting, contributes to hypertension, lung disease and affects other parts of the body adversely … and as the cost of these products frequently exceeds $2,000 annually, often times at the exclusion of products that would promote health.”

Reed said the coalition encourages all nonsmokers and e-cigarette users to actively encourage and support users to make every effort to reduce and eventually quit; non-users to not start; and legislatures to increase taxes on these products as a deterrent to their use. The coalition also promotes educational efforts, especially of youngsters, to avoid use because of adverse health effects and advocates to maintain the indoor smoking/vaping restrictions enacted by the Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department and many other health-related entities.

“Twenty-seven percent of high school students and 10.5 percent of middle school students in West Virginia use e-cigarettes in a 30-day period, 80 percent of smokers start by age 18 and almost all started by age 26,” Reed said. “Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. at 480,000 annually.”

In West Virginia, 26 percent of all West Virginia adults are tobacco users of some sort, he added. Reed encouraged tobacco and e-cigarette users to call the tobacco quick line at 1-877-966-8784 and ask for help.

“Smokers’ average 10 to 14 years of loss of life, and secondhand smoke is also detrimental [because] the smoke contains thousands of chemicals and at least 70 are carcinogens,” Reed said. “Nicotine in tobacco and most vapes are addictive, and that’s reason it’s so hard to quit tobacco and vaping use, and the addition of menthol increases that difficulty.”

Prior to adjourning, the commission also:

  • Approved and signed the fiscal year 21 Victim of Crime Act, or VOCA, Victim Assistance Grant Application, Standard Conditions and Assurances, for victim advocate services. The requested amount is $40,308.
  • Approved correspondence from Shane Jenkins, Upshur County Firefighters Association president, requesting the appointment of Derek V. Long to the Upshur County Fire Board to fill the Fire Association representative vacancy. Upon approval, Mr. Long’s term will expire on June 30, 2023.
  • Approved correspondence from Upshur County Prosecuting Attorney Bryan Hinkle requesting the employment of Alicia N. Bosely as legal assistant, effective April 19, 2021, pending receipt and review of background check results.

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