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Missouri "Worst in Nation" for Tobacco-Prevention Spending

PHOTO: The adult smoking rate in Missouri is 22 percent, well above the U.S. average of around 18 percent. The state's teen smoking rate of 15 percent is on par with national numbers. Photo credit: cherylholt/morguefile.com.
PHOTO: The adult smoking rate in Missouri is 22 percent, well above the U.S. average of around 18 percent. The state's teen smoking rate of 15 percent is on par with national numbers. Photo credit: cherylholt/morguefile.com.
January 12, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The latest report on how well states are funding tobacco prevention and cessation efforts has Missouri ranked worst in the nation. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Missouri will take in $231 million in tobacco revenue this year, while spending just $70,000 to prevent kids from starting and to help smokers quit.

That's just one-tenth of one percent of the CDC's recommendation and John Schachter, director of communications with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, says the state clearly has a long way to go to kick the habit.

"When you don't have a broad array of ways of tackling tobacco use, you aren't going to have a complete program, you're not going to have great success," he says.

An estimated 22 percent of Missouri adults smoke cigarettes, which is higher than the national average of roughly 18 percent.

Nationwide, Schachter notes that states are collecting more than $25 billion this year from tobacco taxes and lawsuit settlement money, but are spending less than two percent of it on prevention and cessation programs.

"Those numbers are indicative that the states are literally sacrificing the lives and health of kids and it's something which doesn't have to be the case," he says.

Tobacco use, according to Schachter, is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, taking nearly a half-million American lives each year.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO