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 calls for the following actions to be taken by Missouri's elected officials:
- Increase state funding for tobacco prevention and cessation;
- Pass comprehensive smokefree laws and policies on the local and statewide levels; and
- Pass local laws that increase the tobacco sales age to 21.
The American Lung Association teamed up with our partners to advocate for laws at the local level to raise the legal age of sale for tobacco products 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.
The American Lung Association also worked with our partners and local health organizations to pass comprehensive smokefree policies in St. Louis and St. Charles counties on the November 2018 ballot. The coalition collected more than 80,000 signatures in St. Charles and St. Louis Counties to ensure that everyone has the right to breathe clean smokefree air. Unfortunately, after an intensive legal battle, the courts ordered the strong comprehensive measures supported by the Lung Association off the ballot in both counties.
In the meantime, local officials in St. Charles County, placed "Smokefree With Exemptions" on the November 2018 ballot that would continue to allow smoking in a number of workplaces. This measure was backed by the tobacco and casino industries. In St. Louis County, the casino industry collected signatures and placed their own language that would prohibit smoking on 50 percent of the gaming floors of casinos on the November 2018 ballot. The American Lung Association and Show Me Smoke-Free coalitions urged voters to vote no on the weak smokefree laws that remained on the ballot. However, both measures ended up being approved by voters and took effect immediately.
During the 2019 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
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