MASON COUNTY— Many residents of W.Va. are greatly affected by the use of tobacco products.
According to the West Virginia Division of Tobacco Prevention, tobacco use is the leading cause of death and disease in W.Va., particularly spit tobacco and smoking. Cigarette smoke is known to contain hundreds of dangerous toxins and cancer causing substances. It has also been reported that many residents begin using tobacco products as young as middle school.
While this news can be somewhat discouraging, the West Virginia Division of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) recently reported that tobacco use among middle school and high school students is decreasing as the years go on. This new report from the DHHR includes the results of the 2007 and 2009 Youth Tobacco Survey.
“West Virginia has seen limited decreases in adult tobacco use rates, but declines have been dramatic among the youth,” said Dan Christy, director of the health statistics center. “This report also measures never-tobacco use – those students who have never tried or used any form of tobacco. It is a more positive focus for analysis, and never-tobacco use has significantly increased 90 percent among high school students from 2000 to 2009.”
According to this study, the number of students from both age groups who have never used tobacco has increased. For middle school students in the year 2000, 46 percent of students had never used any tobacco products. In 2007, that percentage increased to 55.9 percent and in 2009, it increased to 67.4 percent. For high school students in the year 2000, 20.6 percent of students had never used tobacco products. That number has also increased to 32.3 percent in 2007, and to 39.2 percent in 2009.
It was also reported by this study that 49.5 percent, approximately 7,300 high school students who currently smoked in 2009 wanted to quit smoking. In 2007, 53.8 percent of middle school smokers, approximately 3,100 students, wanted to quit smoking. This number dropped slightly in 2009, to 50.2 percent, approximately 2,200 students.
In 2007, 38.5 percent of high school students, approximately 31,700, reported that they currently use some kind of tobacco product. This number dropped slightly in 2009 to 32.6 percent, or approximately 26,200 students. For middle school students, 17.3 percent, or 10,700 students, reported that they currently used tobacco products in 2007. This number decreased to 15 percent, or 9,000 students in 2009.
While these decreasing numbers are a great thing, it can be easy to forget those who still need help with this issue. For those who want help with quitting smoking, the Mason County Health Department will be offering a free smoking cessation class from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, Feb. 14, at the Health Department. Teresa Adkins Mills, the health department’s Regional Tobacco Prevention Coalition coordinator will head the class. To sign up for this class, or for other information about quitting smoking, call the Mason County Health Department at 304-675-3050 or Ms. Mills at 304-633-4555.
For more information regarding the DHHR study, visit www.wvdhhr.org/bph/hsc.