American Lung Association report gives Missouri an ‘F’ grade for funding tobacco prevention, cessation efforts

Published: Mar. 5, 2022 at 1:27 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The American Lung Association gave Missouri a failing grade for funding tobacco prevention and cessation efforts in its latest “State of Tobacco Control” report.

The association released its 20th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report on Jan. 26, 2022. The report grades states based on efforts, programs and policies to reduce tobacco use. It also graded states on several criteria, including smokefree air, tobacco taxes, availability of flavored tobacco products and access to cessation services.

Missouri received an “F” for its overall tobacco prevention and cessation efforts. The state received the same grades for all of the sub-criteria except for access to cessation services, in which Missouri received a “C” grade.

According to the report, The American Lung Association calls for Missouri’s elected officials to take the following actions to reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke:

  1. Increase state funding for tobacco prevention and cessation
  2. Pass comprehensive smokefree laws and policies at the local and state level
  3. Increase tobacco taxes on all tobacco products.

Missouri’s tobacco tax is currently the lowest in the nation. The state imposes a 17-cent tax on a pack of cigarettes, considerably lower than the highest state-based tobacco tax ($4.35 in New York).

The state last raised its tobacco tax rate in 1993 from 13 cents to 17 cents. The most recent push to raise the state’s cigarette tax came in 2016, when Missouri voters rejected competing ballot questions that called to raised the tobacco tax.

According to the American Lung Association, the 2021 regular legislative session was less active than years past when it came to legislation addressing tobacco use. Missouri started enrolling individuals in Medicaid expansion for coverage on October 1, 2021.

The ALA says Missouri’s Medicaid coverage for tobacco cessation is comprehensive and helps thousands of Missourians break the addiction, but adds the state should consider more laws to provide comprehensive protections from secondhand smoke in public places and workplaces.

Some communities in the Ozarks region have been taking steps to prevent and reduce tobacco usage. The 2021 ALA report credited the Springfield Public Schools district for being a pilot sight for the Lung Association’s revamped N-O-T program. The district has been training their school nurses to be Freedom From Smoking facilitators.

The city of Branson West also passed a comprehensive smokefree policy in November 2019, while Monnett, and Joplin all passed Tobacco-21 ordinances locally over the past few years.

According to the American Lung Association, smoking is the No. 1 preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 480,000 people each year.

For the full ALA report, CLICK HERE.

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