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New Report: Missouri Receives All F's for Tobacco Control Efforts

Low tobacco tax, smoking in workplaces to blame for failing grades

(January 30, 2019) - ST. LOUIS

For more information please contact:

Jill Thompson
[email protected]
312-940-7001

Today, the American Lung Association in Missouri released the 2019 "State of Tobacco Control" report, which revealed all failing grades on its efforts to reduce and prevent tobacco use. The lack of progress on tobacco control efforts is largely attributed to the state's very low tobacco taxes and the fact that smoking is still allowed in some bars and gaming establishments.

The 17th annual "State of Tobacco Control" report grades states and the federal government on policies proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use, and finds that elected officials must do more to save lives and ensure all Missouri residents benefit from reductions in tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke:

  • Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F
  • Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws - Grade F
  • Level of State Tobacco Taxes - Grade F
  • Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco - Grade F
  • Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Grade F

The need for Missouri to take action to protect youth from tobacco is more urgent than ever, with youth e-cigarette use reaching epidemic levels due to a 78 percent increase in high school e-cigarette use from 2017 to 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey. This equals one million additional kids beginning to use e-cigarettes, placing their developing bodies and lungs at risk from the chemicals in e-cigarettes as well as a lifetime of addiction to a deadly product. This has caused the U.S. Surgeon General to declare e-cigarette use among young people an epidemic in an Advisory issued in December 2018.

"In Missouri, our smoking rates remain at 20.8 percent and tobacco use remains the state's leading cause of preventable death and disease, killing more than 10,000 people per year. We need to invest in proven measures such as increasing state funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs, and making all workplaces smokefree," said Leah Martin, director of advocacy for the Lung Association.

The Lung Association encourages Missouri to fully fund tobacco control efforts at levels recommended by the CDC, and in particular, this year's report noted the need to focus on passing comprehensive smokefree laws and policies on the local and statewide levels.

The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and if Missouri would pass a comprehensive smokefree law that eliminates smoking in all public places and workplaces, workers across the state would benefit. This health protection would benefit everyone and is especially critical for those who work in the service and manufacturing sectors who are often exposed to secondhand smoke daily.

"Opportunities for better health begin where people work, live and play, and a person should not have to be exposed to the dangers of secondhand smoke to put food on the table," said Martin.

The 2019 "State of Tobacco Control" provides a blueprint that states and the federal government can follow to put in place proven policies that will have the greatest impact on reducing tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke in the U.S. The real question is: Will lawmakers in Missouri end their failure to act and take this opportunity to achieve lasting reductions in tobacco-related death and disease?

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About the American Lung Association

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.

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