For many years, tobacco use has been the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and around the world. West Virginia is no exception. In fact, West Virginia ranks as one of the highest tobacco-using states in the country. Over 3,500 people die in WV each year from tobacco-related causes – this averages to about 10 persons per day dying from tobacco exposure. With that being said, our population of pregnant women who smoke is alarmingly high as well. According to the 2016 WV DHHR Report, 24.2% of pregnant women smoke in WV. Although this number has slightly decreased from recent years, WV continues to remain significantly above the the national average of 8.2%.
Not only does smoking increase mortality, it can also pose serious threats to one’s overall health as well. First and second-hand smoke have both been linked to worsening lung function and increasing respiratory disease in those exposed. Furthermore, smoking has been linked to cause and/or worsen gum disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, asthma, COPD, emphysema, and diabetes complications. For pregnant women who smoke, the risks are even higher. Smoking during pregnancy contributes to premature birth, birth defects, and infant death. If these physical negative effects are not enough, smoking-related illnesses costs over $300 billion dollars each year with nearly $170 billion of that being in direct medical costs. The combination of physical and economical detriments of smoking are clear reasons as to why smoking cessation is so important.
When a person stops smoking, the positive effects on their bodies begin almost instantaneously. Smoking cessation improves blood pressure, circulation, and lung function, to name a few. The good news is that it is never too late to quit! There are numerous resources available for those interested in smoking cessation. WV has several organizations who dedicate their time and efforts to smoking cessation in our communities, as well. Furthermore, doctors, pharmacists, and other health care professionals have the ability and knowledge to educate patients about the benefits of smoking cessation and how to get connected with the proper resources. UCSOP and the Script Your Future campaign encourages all persons to quit smoking and become educated on the risks it poses to your cardiovascular and respiratory health, especially.
If you or a loved one are interested in quitting smoking, you can visit www.wvquitline.com or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
You can also take the pledge to quit smoking at www.scriptyourfuture.org.