(12/04/2013)
A new survey says more West Virginia teenagers are staying away from tobacco.

A 2013 West Virginia Youth Tobacco Survey says about 46 percent of West Virginia high school students have never used any type of tobacco.

That's an improvement from 20.6 percent in 2000.

The usage problem varies widely from county-to-county and geographic sections.

According to the survey, the percentage of students who never smoked cigarettes increased from 25.7 percent in 2000 to 53.2 percent in 2013.

The percentage of teen smokers, according to the survey, dropped from 38.5 percent to 18.6 percent during the same period.

The decline is credited outreach efforts and education programs, raising awareness about the dangers of nicotine.

West Virginia has the second highest rate of smoking at 28.6 percent of the adult population, with 421,000 adults who smoke in the state.

A 2013 county-by-county study of adult smoking says up to 43% of Calhoun adults smoke, with a state-wide average at 26%, according to to rankings from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

Other studies say 32% of Calhoun residents smoke

In 2005, a Pride Survey done at Calhoun Middle-High School said about 50% of students had used tobacco.

The rate of West Virginia women who smoke while pregnant has declined over the years, but it's still "depressing," said Dr. Brenda Dawley, an associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Marshall University's Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

Dawley said the rate of smoking among pregnant women in West Virginia is about 35 percent and is higher in some counties. That's decreased from 50 percent 12 years ago, she said.

Dawley said West Virginia's smoking rate among women, unlike many other states, has not decreased drastically.


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