Tobacco use among youth in the Mountain State is declining, experts said.
Recent date released by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Division of Tobacco Prevention shows the percentage of high school students who reported they have never tried or used any form of tobacco has increased 124 percent from 20.6 percent in 2000 to 46.1 percent in 2013.
Over the same 10 year period, there was a 107 percent increase in the percentage of high school students who reported never having tried cigarettes.
"The data indicate our programs and outreach efforts by the Bureau of Public Health to increase youth awareness about the real dangers of nicotine are working," said Dr. Letitia Tierney, State Health Officer and Commission for the Bureau for Public Health. "The improvements that have occurred over the last 10 years are worth celebrating."
"We are not where we want to be as a state, but we are seeing measurable improvements."
The reports also indicated 18.6 percent of the state's high school students are smokes, a 52 percent improvement from 38.5 percent in 2000. Tierney attributes the success to teens participating in Raze, West Virginia's tobacco prevention movement. There are close to 4,000 youths enrolled in the program with 150 "crews" statewide.
"We are making significant progress," she said. "We must remember that Nicotine is a drug and it is addictive."
"We must empower our young people with information about dangers of tobacco, before they become addicted."