I’m Cameron Keyser— Executive Support Specialist at Think Kids and a graduate student about to receive my degree in Health Administration from West Virginia University. Since last fall, I’ve directed a project funded by the Pallottine Foundation of Huntington called the “Teaming Up Against Tobacco: Building a Community-Based Collaborative Approach” Project. 

This was a new experience for me. I’d never worked for a nonprofit organization or on a community-based project, notably one that focused on local advocacy initiatives. I’d like to share with you what the project was about, our process, the takeaways and challenges, and how this information can be useful for communities across West Virginia. 

Goal of the Project

The primary goal of the Teaming Up Against Tobacco Project was to assess and address the availability of tobacco prevention and cessation programs and resources at the community level in Cabell, Kanawha, Lincoln, and Mason counties. Through surveys, interviews, and data analysis, we aimed to comprehensively understand the challenges and opportunities in our fight against tobacco use.

Our Process

Our process began with comprehensive surveys conducted among community members, stakeholders, and health professionals across the four counties. We also conducted interviews with key individuals in targeted locations to gain insight into local programs, services, and perceptions of tobacco use. Data from these surveys and interviews were analyzed to identify prevailing themes and challenges in tobacco control efforts.

What We Learned

Our findings provide insight into tobacco prevention and cessation in West Virginia, ranging from budget shortages to the pressing need to address youth vaping. The need for more funding, increased access to assistance for quitting, and collaboration from local stakeholders and leaders were emphasized by the community’s perspectives.


  • Funding Constraints: Limited funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs hindered the implementation at the community level.
  • Youth Vaping Epidemic: The rise in youth vaping rates posed a significant challenge. This is a very complex issue that will require education and prevention efforts.
  • Communication Gaps: The absence of coordinated statewide media campaigns, collaboration, and limited evaluation efforts highlighted communication gaps and the need for improved strategies.

How Can We Use This Information Moving Forward?

With these insights, we can more effectively plan an approach for improving the well-being of our communities. We could significantly impact tobacco control efforts by addressing budget shortages, improving communication strategies, and advocating for stakeholder collaboration. To overcome the barriers to creating a healthy, tobacco-free future for West Virginia, advocacy, education, and community engagement will be crucial.

To learn more about the Teaming Up Against Tobacco Project and how you can get involved, visit our project page.

Cameron is a West Virginia native who serves as an Executive Support Specialist. He is currently a student at West Virginia University where he has obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from the School of Medicine and is now in his final year of the Master of Healthcare Administration program. He is passionate about improving healthcare in rural parts of West Virginia and giving back to the communities that he serves.


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