CHARLESTON — The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is encouraged to see the West Virginia legislature pass and Gov. Jim Justice sign legislation to reduce the toll of tobacco in the state. The legislature, however, missed a big opportunity by cutting the funding that was originally included that would have boosted programs to prevent tobacco use. ACS CAN is proud to have worked with the bill sponsors and thanks Delegate Daryl Cowles and Delegate Mick Bates for their leadership.
HB 4494 will create a task force that will recommend and monitor the establishment and management of programs that are found to be effective in the reduction of all tobacco use, including e-cigarettes, with a strong focus on the prevention of children and young adults’ use of tobacco products. The legislation as passed by the House provided a funding stream to support the task force. The legislation originally would have directed 25% of the previous year’s interest earnings from the revenue shortfall reserve fund part B into a new special revenue program fund. While tobacco use driven by the e-cigarette epidemic is skyrocketing among youth, the legislature has ultimately chosen not to increase funding for tobacco prevention programs.
Delegate Cowles and Delegate Bates joined forces to work in a bipartisan fashion to help refocus resources in West Virginia in an effort to improve the health of the state, where currently 4,300 adults die each year from smoking-related illnesses. West Virginia still has the highest adult smoking rate in the country and the youth e-cigarette epidemic only continues to grow.
“Properly funding these programs could have reduced tobacco use rates, and ultimately combated tobacco-related illness and death,” said Juliana Frederick Curry, government relations director, ACS CAN. “We thank the legislature and governor for taking this first step and look forward to working with the sponsors, the legislature and the governor to increase funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs in the future.”
ACS CAN along with its health partners and volunteers thank Gov. Justice for signing this legislation into law and look forward to working with him to add funding to support the task force, and the state’s tobacco prevention and cessation programs, in the near future.
About ACS CAN
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit www.fightcancer.org.