Missouri, Arkansas score badly in Lung Association survey

WASHINGTON (NBC) The nation's leading preventable cause of early death Is tobacco.

The American Lung Association is issuing grades to each state for their tobacco control laws and policies.

In 2016 -- California became the second state -- after Hawaii -- to raise the legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21, earning the Golden State glowing remarks from the American Lung Association:
"They really had a banner year this year as far as tobacco is concerned," said Thomas Carr with the American Lung Association.

The Lung Association has released grades for each state's tobacco control efforts.

No state received all A’s.

Several failed every category. Those are Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
Missouri and Arkansas didn’t fare much better. Missouri received failing grades for four of the five categories, earning a D for access to smoking cessation services. Arkansas also failed four categories, and earned a C for smokefree air.
The states were graded on tobacco prevention and cessation funding, smokefree air, tobacco taxes, access to cessation services and raising the tobacco age to 21.
The survey reported Arkansas budgeted more than $9 million in state funding for tobacco control programs in Fiscal Year 2017. Missouri budgeted $110,000.

One state emerging from the fog is West Virginia.

The state improved its score for "access to smoking cessation services" from an F last year... To a B this year.

"Making it easier for Medicaid enrollees to quit, increased funding for their Quitline," added Carr.

West Virginia’s investment for its Quitline was $3 per smoker.

Now almost $9 per smoker.

Almosty 95-percent of smokers try their first cigarette before age 21.