Breaking the Cycle of Tobacco Addiction

Cancer Advocates Urge West Virginia Lawmakers to Pass Tobacco Prevention Measures on the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout® and National Rural Health Day

November 15, 2023

CHARLESTON, W. Va. – This Thursday, on the American Cancer Society’s 48th annual Great American Smokeout® and National Rural Health Day, cancer advocates are calling on elected officials to do more to support the residents of West Virginia who want to quit using deadly, addictive tobacco products. 

Not only does the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) want to help people quit, but we also want to help West Virginia’s youth never start. We know a well-funded tobacco cessation and prevention program and regular and significant tax increases on all tobacco products are essential to provide the support needed to help people quit and to prevent kids and young adults from starting to use tobacco.

“On this Great American Smokeout, ACS CAN urges Gov. Justice and state lawmakers to invest $16.5 million annually in fact-based tobacco prevention and cessation programs and increase the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack with a parallel tax on all other tobacco products, including e-cigarettes,” said Doug Hogan, government relations director, ACS CAN. “Increasing tobacco taxes and prevention and cessation funding are some of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use – and tobacco companies know it.”

Tobacco use is still the leading preventable cause of disease and death, and smoking is linked to at least 12 types of cancers, including lung, oral, breast and colorectal cancers. West Virginia has the highest adult and youth smoking rates in the country. 27.5% of high school students use e-cigarettes, and each year, more than 4,300 West Virginians die from a smoking-related disease.

Furthermore, tobacco use is one of the primary drivers of cancer-related health disparities. Tobacco companies have specifically targeted rural and limited income communities, veterans, people with disabilities, and youth, which has caused disproportionate tobacco use among these populations.  Adults who live in rural areas have higher smoking rates than adults in urban areas. They are also more likely to smoke more – 15 cigarettes or more per day – and have an 18 to 20 percent higher lung cancer death rate than people living in urban areas.
“The Great American Smokeout is not just an opportunity for people who use tobacco to set a plan to quit. It’s also a clear wake-up call for lawmakers to say it’s time for West Virginia to stand up to Big Tobacco,” said Hogan. “For too long, the tobacco industry has been allowed to addict West Virginians to deadly, cancer-causing products. It’s time to say, ‘enough is enough.’ Our residents deserve better.”  

Free resources on quitting tobacco can be found at West Virginia Tobacco Quitline 1-800-QUIT-NOW or through the American Cancer Society’s cessation program, Empowered to Quit. 


About ACS CAN 
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) makes cancer a top priority for policymakers at every level of government. ACS CAN empowers volunteers across the country to make their voices heard to influence evidence-based public policy change that improves the lives of people with cancer and their families. We believe everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer. Since 2001, as the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN has successfully advocated for billions of dollars in cancer research funding, expanded access to quality affordable health care, and advanced proven tobacco control measures. We’re more determined than ever to stand together with our volunteers to end cancer as we know it, for everyone. Join the fight by visiting 

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Media Contacts

Michelle Zimmerman
Associate Director, Regional Media Advocacy