Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in Missouri. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association in Missouri calls for the following three actions to be taken by our elected officials:
- Advocate for increased funding for tobacco prevention and cessation;
- Advocate for comprehensive smokefree laws and policies on the statewide and local levels; and
- Advocate for local laws that increase the tobacco sales age to 21.
During the 2017 legislative session the American Lung Association in Missouri focused on restoring state tobacco control funding and advocated for an increase. Health advocates were able to get the tobacco control funding line item fully restored after being cut in the Governor's budget. However, the restored amount remains far short of what is truly needed to fight tobacco use in Missouri.
The Lung Association teamed up with our partners to advocate for laws at the local level to raise the legal age of sale for tobacco from 18 to 21. Communities that have done this are expected to see significant reductions in youth smoking as a result. Evidence is very clear that young people who reach the age of 21 without smoking are very likely to never start. Unfortunately, kids who can purchase tobacco products at 18 are often the source for younger teen's tobacco products. Raising the age to 21 makes it more difficult for those under 18 to get their hands on tobacco products and increases the likelihood they will never start.
Missouri now has 14 communities that have passed Tobacco 21 ordinances: Columbia, Des Peres, Excelsior Springs, Gladstone, Grandview, Independence, Kansas City, Jackson County, Jefferson City, Lee's Summit, Liberty, Parkville, St. Louis and St. Louis City covering more than 37 percent of Missourians.
Southeast Missouri State University adopted a Tobacco Free Policy and implemented the policy in fall of 2017. Several more campuses in Missouri are working towards tobacco free campus policies in 2018.
During the 2018 legislative session, the American Lung Association in Missouri will continue to focus on lung health and advocate for increased funding for tobacco prevention and cessation and comprehensive smokefree laws and policies. The Lung Association will also continue to advocate for Tobacco 21 laws at the local level in Missouri.