We all know about the dangers of tobacco use.
Repeated studies have shown use of tobacco can result in a variety of conditions, including asthma, bronchitis, heart disease and a variety of cancers while also increasing risks of stroke, rheumatoid arthritis and even cataracts.
There is a constant effort to discuss the effects of tobacco use, whether it be cigarettes, cigars, or forms of smokeless tobacco, especially when it comes to discouraging its use among our younger residents. It appears, however, that the message is being heard.a
According to a recent Youth Tobacco Survey from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, the number of middle and high school aged students who said they have never used tobacco is increasing dramatically.
The survey, which focuses primarily on 2007 and 2009, shows that the number of middle school students who say they've never used a tobacco product went from 55.9 percent to 67.4 percent in the two-year span.
That compares to 46 percent of middle schoolers who say they had never used tobacco in 2000.
The numbers are just as staggering in high schoolers, where, in 2000, only 20.6 percent said they had never used tobacco. That transitioned to 32.3 percent in 2007 and 39.2 percent in 2009.
These numbers, if completely accurate, are great news for the health of our younger generations and the future health of West Virginians in general.
At the same time, it shows there is still much work to be done. The earlier someone starts to use tobacco products, the more likely they are to become addicted, and the more susceptible they become to the deadly effects resulting from tobacco use.
The effort must continue throughout West Virginia to stop our young people from using tobacco products for the benefit of their health and the benefit of West Virginia.