W.Va. task force presents recommendation on smoking prevention and treatment costing $ 16.5 million

CHARLESTON, West Virginia (WSAZ) – West Virginia has one of the highest rates of tobacco use in the country. A Gov. Jim Justice task force looked for ways to reduce tobacco use, prevent use, and treat users.

Dr. Susan Morgan is fighting to help treat smoking and keep it from starting. She is vice-chair of the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Working Group and made the final presentation to the Oversight Committee on Health and Human Resources Accountability during the interim legislative session on Sunday.

“This working group sees this as an opportunity for important changes in the direction and functioning of tobacco prevention,” said Dr Morgan.

The task force’s job was to find recommendations to reduce smoking rates in the state and find solutions for people who want to quit smoking.

Since 2018, Dr Morgan said more than 4,500 quit smoking hotline calls indicate they smoke four to five packs of cigarettes per day.

The current dosage of drugs used to help heavy smokers quit smoking is not sufficient.

“In particular, we want third-party payers and in particular providers to understand why withdrawal treatment may take longer and higher levels of medication,” said Dr Morgan. “Two patches may work for a smoker of two packs per day, but not for those who use 3, 4 or even 5 packs per day. “

Dr Morgan said the task force’s recommendation is to train more people specializing in tobacco treatment, create clinics strategically placed across the state to provide therapy and medication, start treatment centers virtual and more.

If the initiative and recommendations are implemented in the next legislative session, Dr Morgan said it would cost around $ 16.5 million.

“Currently, the West Virginia Stop Line invests only 64 cents per smoker compared to the national stop line average of $ 2.28 per smoker,” Dr. Morgan said.

Lawmakers at the meeting asked about alternatives such as e-cigarettes. Dr Morgan said there was not enough factual information showing that e-cigarettes were an alternative to smoking.

According to the presentation, they also recommend that the tax on cigarettes be increased, which will make access more difficult but also increase state revenues.

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