CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Youth tobacco use in West Virginia is declining based on the latest data released by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Division of Tobacco Prevention. The 2013 West Virginia Youth Tobacco Survey indicates that the percentage of high school students who reported they have never tried or used any form of tobacco has increased 124% from 20.6% in 2000 to 46.1% in 2013. Over the same 10-year period, there was a 107% increase in the percentage of high school students who reported never having tried smoking cigarettes (53.2% in 2013, up from 25.7% in 2000).
"The data indicate our programs and outreach efforts by the Bureau for Public Health to increase youth awareness about the real dangers of nicotine are working," said Dr. Letitia Tierney, State Health Officer and Commissioner for the Bureau for Public Health. "The improvements that have occurred over the last ten years are worth celebrating. We are not where we want to be as a state, but we are seeing measurable improvements."
Data from the report indicate 18.6% of West Virginia high school students are smokers, a 52% improvement from 38.5% in 2000. Tierney attributes much of the success in the report to the teens participating in Raze, West Virginia’s teen-led tobacco prevention movement, with a membership of close to 4,000 youth and 150 "crews" statewide.
"We are making significant progress, but we can do even better," said Tierney. "We must remember that Nicotine is a drug and it is addictive. We must empower our young people with information about the dangers of tobacco, before they become addicted. Nicotine puts young people at risk for life-long, serious health consequences."
To learn more about Raze visit www.razewv.com or for more info about the Division of Tobacco Prevention go to www.wvdtp.org. Raze is funded and facilitated by the DHHR in collaboration with the American Lung Association of West Virginia.