Dr. Monika Sawhney of the Marshall University College of Health Professions has recently had her research article titled “Comprehensive Tobacco Control in West Virginia - Going from Intersection to Integration” published in the West Virginia Medical Journal. Sawhney co-authored the study with officials from the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department in Charleston, W.Va.
Sawhney, program director for the undergraduate public health program at Marshall, said their research showed West’s Virginia adult daily smoking rates have not declined when comparing numbers to the rest of the nation or even surrounding states.
“West Virginia has a lot of tobacco usage and this research looks at the neighboring states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia and how they have made progress over time for tobacco-related indicators,” Sawhney said. “These states have implemented policies that encouraged residents to give up smoking or smoke less. West Virginians have many health challenges and it is so important that we pay attention to tobacco policies in our state.”
Sawhney said although many effective cessation and clean indoor air programs have been developed, the research recommends additional tobacco control funding mechanisms that promote strategies to be integrated at the community level.
According to the Division of Tobacco Prevention at the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health, West Virginia is aggressively addressing this problem by implementing evidence-based, comprehensive tobacco control programs. Annual federal and state funding for these efforts in West Virginia totaled just over $6.2 million in 2014 (an 8 percent decrease in funding levels of the past eight years), which is 22 percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation of $28 million annually.
Despite the fact that the consequences of tobacco use are well-known to West Virginians, residents continue to use tobacco in alarming numbers, according to the Division of Tobacco Prevention, and tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of premature death and disease. Bruce W. Adkins, director for the division, said tobacco use, both by smoking and using smokeless tobacco, is deeply rooted in our West Virginia culture.
“It is important that we continue to use best practices, adopt effective policies, and maintain research-based, known-to-work interventions to address tobacco control in West Virginia,” Adkins said.
To learn more about West Virginia’s current tobacco policies, visit www.wvdtp.org. For more information about Sawhney’s research, visit page 22 of the July/August issue of the WV Medical Journal at http://digital.graphcompubs.com/publication/?m=30875&l=1 online. To learn more about Marshall University’s department of public health and its work toward improving our region’s health, contact Sawhney at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.marshall.edu/cohp online.