SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The American Lung Association gave Missouri a failing grade for its tobacco prevention and cessation efforts in its latest “State of Tobacco Control” report.
The association released its 19th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report on Jan. 27, 2021. The report grades states based on efforts, programs and policies to reduce tobacco use. It also graded states on several criteria, including smoke free air, tobacco taxes, availability of flavored tobacco products and access to cessation services.
Missouri received an “F” for its overall tobacco prevention and cessation efforts. The state received the same grades for all of the sub-criteria except for access to cessation services, in which Missouri received a “D” grade.
According to the report, The American Lung Association calls for Missouri’s elected officials to take the following actions to reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke:
- Increase state funding for tobacco prevention and cessation
- Pass comprehensive smoke free laws and policies at the local and state level
- Increase tobacco taxes on all tobacco products.
Missouri’s tobacco tax is currently the lowest in the nation. The state imposes a 17-cent tax on a pack of cigarettes, considerably lower than the highest state-based tobacco tax ($4.35 in New York).
The state last raised its tobacco tax rate in 1993 from 13 cents to 17 cents. The most recent push to raise the state’s cigarette tax came in 2016, when Missouri voters rejected competing ballot questions that called to raised the tobacco tax.
Some communities in the Ozarks region have been taking steps to prevent and reduce tobacco usage, according to the American Lung Association.
The report says the Springfield Public Schools district is a pilot sight for the Lung Association’s revamped N-O-T program, and the district has been training their school nurses to be Freedom From Smoking facilitators. The city of Branson West also passed a comprehensive smoke free policy in November 2019, while Monnett, and Joplin all passed Tobacco-21 ordinances locally over the past year.
According to the American Lung Association, smoking is the No. 1 preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 480,000 people each year.
“Even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke remain leading public health threats, says the American Lung Association report. “In addition to tobacco-related death and disease, smoking also increases the risk of the most severe impacts of COVID-19, making ending tobacco use more important than ever.”