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Missouri gets an “F” when it comes to discouraging tobacco use.That’s according to the new report from the American Lung Association. KSMU’s Ryan Farmer reports.
The report cards have arrived and for the third year in a row Missouri has received a failing grade.Missouri received an “F” in all four categories measured by the American Lung Association for its State of Tobacco Control Report. Michelle Bernth, is the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the ALA of the Central States.She says that this is a continuing problem not addressed by Missouri lawmakers.
"Yet again Missouri's Legislators have proven that they are not taking the tobacco problem seriously, and that's a real mistake. Tobacco has a huge burden on Missouri," Bernth says.
The report measured things like smoke free air, tobacco prevention and control spending, and cigarette tax.Bernth says that a fourth measure, which is the most neglected, is providing aid for those who want to quit smoking.
"We know that tobacco related death is the number one cause of preventable death and so its really important that when people want to try to quit smoking that there are avenues available to them. Out state Medicaid program offers no coverage for smoking cessation," Bernth says.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests how much each state should spend on tobacco control. This is another problem that Bernth says contributed to the failing grade; the lack of recommended money spent on a tobacco free program.
"That recommendation for Missouri is $73 million dollars. Currently Missouri is spending only $2.6 million dollars. So we are running about $71 million dollars short of the recommended minimum. So that's a huge area for improvement," Bernth says.
Bernth and the ALA say that this issue should be a top priority.She says public involvement is crucial for fighting tobacco use.We have more information on our website, at ksmu.org.
For KSMU News, I’m Ryan Farmer.