Author Archives: TFM

More Than Two Dozen Students to Attend National Conference on Tobacco or Health in Kansas City

8/6/2012–More than two dozen Missouri high school and college students will attend the National Conference on Tobacco or Health in Kansas City, August 14-17. The Tobacco Free Missouri board will hold a private welcome for selected students, as well as other Kansas City area students, the night of August 14. The students will assist with the youth activism event on Thursday, August 16 to raise awareness of tobacco issues in Missouri and attend conference sessions.

Speakers at the conference will include Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Tobacco Free Missouri congratulates college students:  Cindy Calender, Philomina Amofa and Jamie Shank of Missouri State University; Andrea Cherry, Brittney Vigna, Jared Kepko and Emily Andsager of the University of Missouri.

High school students in attendance will be: Rebecca Bade, Marissa Beavers, Paul Becker and Alyssa Bradley of New Bloomfield R-III; Emily and Jessica Thomeczek, Johnna Lasby and Rachel Nemes of Hannibal; Ashley Henry, Megan Jeffries, and Jared Koller of Kansas City, representing Youth With a Vision of Tri County Mental Health Services; Alex Higginbotham of Odessa R-VII; Hattie and Nick Wright of North Shelby; Daniel Giuffra and Maria Torres Galvan of St. Louis, representing Casa De Salud; and Hailey Rundel, Madison Kellums and Brittney Lodrigue of Southland C-9.

“This is the first time ever that so many students have had the opportunity to attend the national conference so everyone is really excited,” said Joyce Lara, Tobacco Free Missouri Youth Coordinator. “A mixture of high school and college students is a welcome addition. We hope our future high school students realize they can keep their passion well beyond those high school years.”

The students, along with other attendees, can choose among a wide range of conference sessions over the four-day conference, including more than 20 oral and poster presentations by Tobacco Free Missouri members. Topics will include developing media messages, smokeless tobacco control strategies, and promoting community partnerships. A session devoted to youth-related topics will cover school-based tobacco prevention programs, countering tobacco advertising aimed at youth; and developing youth outreach programs for tobacco-control campaigns.

Youth activism is important because peer influence is one of the most powerful factors effecting the decision to start smoking. In Missouri, high school students who smoke are three times as likely to have at least one friend who smokes compared to non-smokers, according to the 2011 Missouri Youth Tobacco Survey. Evidence suggests that youth smoking can be prevented through smokefree policies, as youth are less likely to see smoking behavior modeled by adults.

Five Missouri Youth Return from National Symposium to Champion Tobacco Control and Prevention

8/3/2012–Five Missouri tobacco control advocates recently traveled to our nation’s capitol for the Youth Advocacy Symposium, organized by Tobacco Free Kids. These students were among 29 youth from across the nation who met to sharpen skills in tobacco control advocacy. Youth had the opportunity to share ideas and participate in skill-building workshops on leadership, advocacy and communications.

“This has been a very positive experience for the youth and has taken their advocacy skills to the next level,” said Joyce Lara, Youth Coordinator for Tobacco Free Missouri. “These students have worked previously on local-level issues, but thanks to this training they’re eager to work on state issues like increasing the tobacco tax, e-cigarettes, and clean indoor air.”

The students were: recent graduate of Hannibal High school, Kori Casswell; Alex Higginbotham of Odessa R-VII High School; Hailey Rundel and Madison Kellums of Southland C-9 High School in Cardwell; and Nick Wright of North Shelby High School.

Students returning from the conference were equally enthusiastic about their experience. “The symposium was a wonderful way to gain leadership skills, meet some of the brightest students in the nation, and experience Washington D.C.,” Casswell said.

“We were there with the best youth advocates in the country,” agreed Kellums. “Getting to attend the symposium was a great experience, and I hope to attend next year, as well.”

A highlight of the trip was the opportunity for youth leaders to meet with members of Congress, urging them to support measures to restrict tobacco company marketing to youth. In particular, they focused on a bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Blaine Lueketmeyer (R-MO9) that would exclude some cigars from FDA regulation. Students met with Lueketmeyer, who despite being a co-sponsor of the legislation, remarked that the students were persuasive and knowledgeable about the issue. Proponents of the bill say that it will only exempt “premium” cigars; however, tobacco control advocates say that the language in the bill would allow inexpensive cigarillos, which are small, cigarette-sized cigars, to be exempt.

This is a concern since the popularity of cigars, especially cigarillos, is increasing among youth. In fact, one out of five high school males smoke cigars, according to the 2012 Surgeon General’s report Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults. Cigarillos, which come in flavors such as chocolate, strawberry and banana, are often sold in brightly colored packaging that appeal to youth. Similar to cigar use, smokeless tobacco is increasing among Missouri high school males, up nearly 5 percent since 2007, according to Missouri’s 2011 Youth Tobacco Survey. Though cigarette use is decreasing among Missouri youth, other forms of tobacco appear to be gaining ground.

Preventing youth from smoking is critical to reducing tobacco use, the nation’s number one cause of preventable death, because 90 percent of adult smokers start in their teens or earlier. In Missouri, tobacco use kills 9,500 residents and costs the state $2.13 billion in health care bills each year, and 18.9 percent of high school students smoke cigarettes.


Five Missouri Students to Attend Youth Advocacy Symposium in Washington, DC

7/27/2012–Tobacco-Free Kids is pleased to announce that five high school students will attend a Youth Advocacy Symposium at George Washington University in Washington, DC, July 15-19. A group of 35 students from across the country will meet to share best practices and success stories from their state and local programs, as well as collaborating on a national activism project. Additionally, they will be trained in the latest tobacco control strategies and prepare for meetings with their Congressional representatives. Tobacco-Free Kids will provide transportation, food, and lodging.Representing Missouri youth at the symposium will be: Kori Caswell, recent graduate of Hannibal High School; Alex Higginbotham of Odessa R-VII High School; Hailey Rundel and Madison Kellums of Southland C-9 High School in Cardwell; and Nick Wright of North Shelby High School. These students are members of student organizations including Students with a Goal, or SWAG, and Smokebusters, a program that promotes tobacco-free environments through policy change. Through these programs, students have worked to prevent smoking and tobacco use in their schools and communities.

Empowering youth and young adults is key to reducing tobacco use in Missouri. In addition to empowering students who are directly involved in tobacco control, these students can influence other students. Youth are particularly vulnerable to the influence of friends and environmental influences, such as tobacco advertising, according to the 2012 Surgeon General’s Report, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults.

Tobacco use in Missouri is decreasing, but it remains a problem. The Missouri Youth and Tobacco Survey found that, in 2009, over half of all high school students and 1 in 4 middle school students had used some form of tobacco. However, this was a decrease from 2007 when nearly 60 percent of high school students had tried tobacco. The Surgeon General’s report suggests that funding for sustained, multi-component programs, like Smokebusters, could reduce youth tobacco use by 50 percent in six years.

Check out media coverage:

Hannibal Courier-Post:

Daily Dunklin Democrat:

NCOH conference image

TFM Presents at NCTOH

NCOH conference image

7/31/2012–Join TFM this August as we head to Kansas City for the National Conference on Tobacco or Health. Members of TFM and our fellow coalition members will be attending and presenting on a variety of topics.


All-out MU smoking ban comes July 2013, 6 months earlier

7/9/2012–Students, faculty and staff at the University of Missouri-Columbia are voting to move the University-wide smoking ban up six months. If approved, it will begin July 1, 2013. Read a full story about the issue at the Columbia Missourian website:

CDC publishes TFM article on smoke-free ordinances


Several TFM members, including Stan Cowan and Victoria Warren, were among the authors on an article recently published in the CDC journal Preventing Chronic Disease. The article examines the economic effects of smoke-free ordinances on 11 Missouri cities. The findings were consistent with findings from most published economic studies that a smoke-free ordinance does not harm a local economy. Read the full article here.

Clear Air Metro KC adds “VOICES” to casino discussion

7/2/12Clear Air Metro KC has interviewed hundreds of Kansas City residents to learn their thoughts about smoking in Kansas City area casinos. You can hear them tell their stories on Facebook,YouTube and on the Clean Air Metro KC Web site.

An example of “VOICES” project is this one from Victoria: “I do not go to the casinos because of the smoking in there. You have to walk through the smoke area to get to the nonsmoking area. You stink. When you walk out you have to take your clothes off immediately when you get home because you smell of nothing but smoke. I would go to casinos if they were smoke-free.” Victoria Eslinger, Kansas City, MO.

You can learn more about the “VOICES” project on Facebook, see some of the community stories on YouTube, or listen to the calls of 900 Kansas City area residents on the Clear Air Metro KC website.

MO Attorney General calls for end of depictions of smoking in youth-rated movies

5/14/12Attorney General Chris Koster has joined 37 other Attorneys General in calling on movie producers to adopt policies against depicting tobacco use in youth-rated movies. The letter to ten production studios follows the March 8 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults, which says that there is evidence that there is a causal relationship between smoking in movies and young people taking up smoking.

Click here for full release

2009 Federal Tobacco Tax Increase Cut Number of Youth Smokers by At Least 220,000 in First Two Months Alone, New Study Shows

5/14/12The large federal tobacco tax increase implemented on April 1, 2009, reduced the number of youth smokers by at least 220,000 and the number of youth smokeless tobacco users by at least 135,000 in the first two months alone, according to a new study released today by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The researchers emphasized that the study measured only the immediate impact of the tax increase through May 2009, and the number of youth prevented from smoking and using smokeless tobacco would be much larger over time.

Click here to read full release from the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids