1. Advocate for increased funding for tobacco control;
2. Advocate for comprehensive smokefree policies on the statewide and local levels; and
3. Strengthen laws that regulate youth access to tobacco products.
The American Lung Association in Missouri teamed up with our partners to work on local ordinances to raise the legal age of sale for tobacco products from 18 to 21 often referred to as Tobacco 21. Communities that have increased the tobacco sales have seen reductions in youth smoking as a result. Evidence is 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 nine Tobacco 21 communities: Columbia, Independence, Gladstone, Grandview, Kansas City, Lee's Summit, Liberty, St. Louis city and St. Louis County covering more than 31 percent of Missourians.
There was some additional progress made on smokefree ordinances and tobacco-free campus policies as well. St. Louis University and Missouri University adopted tobacco-free campus policies. The city of Hamilton, MO voted to place a comprehensive smokefree law on the November 2016 ballot.
The 2015 Missouri Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System shows that smokefree workplace ordinances remain very popular with the public. Local smokefree laws that prohibit smoking in all indoor workplaces, including restaurants, bars and casinos earn 75 percent support from Missourians. A statewide law earned the support of 68 percent of respondents.
During the 2017 legislative session, the American Lung Association in Missouri will continue to focus on lung health and work with partners to advocate for increased tobacco prevention funding and successful passage of youth access laws. The Lung Association will also advocate for smokefree and Tobacco 21 ordinances at the local level.