Missouri falls behind in tobacco policy, usage report

By  | 

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - On January 25, the American Lung Association released its annual State of Tobacco Control report. It's an annual report that assesses the federal government and all 50 states in several key areas of tobacco use and prevention.

The report looks at looks funding for tobacco prevention programs, smoke-free air laws, tobacco taxes, access to cessation services, and minimum age requirements for purchasing tobacco. Missouri received an 'F' grade in all of these categories, except for in access to cessation services, the state received a 'D' grade.

"It was very troubling to see this report. For those of us who work in public health it was not surprising," said Stephen Hall of the American Heart Association.

"We have known for a long time that we have a lot of work to do on improving tobacco prevention and cessation policy here in Missouri," Hall explained.

Based on these findings and other research The American Lung Association in Missouri calls for action from our elected officials to reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke.

"When you increase the tobacco tax in a state and you raise the minimum age for purchasing tobacco, you will see the smoking rates dramatically decline. When you look at the United States and other states around, you will see that there's a direct correlation between the high smoking rate and the low tobacco taxes and the failure of our state to raise the minimum age requirements," said Hall.

Many public health groups encourage legislator to tighten smoke-free laws within state capital. Jefferson City is smoke-free, but there is an exemption to allow smoking within House of Representatives offices. Health advocates want legislators to lead by example and tighten laws in the capital.

"We show what our priorities are in our public policy and if we value the health of our citizens it really is incumbent upon us to do a better job of encouraging healthy behavior and that starts at the state level. We need to do a better job of leading by example and setting policy that helps our young people start out life on the right foot," said Hall.

In this report the states with the best grades are California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota and Vermont. Those receiving the worst grades are Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

You can see the full report by visiting: http://www.lung.org