CHARLESTON — This statement can be attributed to six of the leading health advocacy organizations in West Virginia: American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and West Virginia Think Kids.
“Today, the state legislature passed legislation that will take away local health departments’ authority to take future action on smoke-free air and other public health policies without approval from county commissioners or the state health officer. As a coalition, we oppose this legislation that will take away local control and make it harder for county health departments to enact future smoke-free air and other public health regulations in communities. These regulations protect West Virginia citizens from exposure to secondhand smoke and improve public health.
“Smoking and secondhand smoke exposure remain leading causes of preventable death and disease in West Virginia. More than 65 percent of the population in West Virginia, workers and patrons, benefit from smoke-free workplaces, including restaurants and bars, because of local smoke-free regulations put in place by local county health departments.
“As we face a global pandemic and skyrocketing youth tobacco use, now is not the time to block future health and safety measures. The Coalition for a Tobacco-free West Virginia calls on Gov. Justice to protect the health of West Virginians by vetoing this legislation.”