Category Archives: News Release

Governor’s Veto of Tobacco Cessation Funding Disappointing to Advocates

Governor’s Veto of Tobacco Cessation Funding Disappointing to Advocates

Decision Furthers Toll of Tobacco on Missourians Health & Wallet

JEFFERSON CITY, MO —June 26, 2014—This week, Tobacco Free Missouri and its statewide health advocacy partners were disappointed to learn of Governor Jay Nixon’s line item veto of much needed tobacco cessation funding to help Missourians quit smoking and lessen the burden of tobacco on our state.

Comprehensive tobacco cessation programs help smokers quit and ultimately save lives and money.  By reducing tobacco use, they play a crucial role in the prevention of many chronic conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and respiratory illness. State tobacco control programs have been measured to have a $5 return for every $1 invested.

Advocates are disappointed by this missed opportunity as the Governor’s own 2015 budget recommendations included new funding for tobacco cessation. The General Assembly’s truly agreed to and finally passed 2015 budget included $150,000 in new state general revenue for tobacco cessation with a federal match of $150,000 for a total of $300,000 to the Department of Health & Senior Services.

However, the governor’s line item veto puts Missouri back to zero state funding for tobacco cessation and continues the toll of tobacco on Missourian’s health and wallet.  Unfortunately, Missouri ranks 50th in spending for tobacco prevention and cessation, which has significant consequences including:

  • One of the highest state smoking rates: 23.9%  national rate 19.1%
  • Annual Smoking Attributable Deaths in Missouri: 9,584
  • Annual Costs to the Missouri Economy Due to Smoking:
    • $2.13 billion health care costs
    • $532 million in state Medicaid expenditures
    • $584 paid by every household in Missouri from smoking-caused government expenditures.

“Research shows the majority of current smokers want to quit,” explains Traci Kennedy, Director of Tobacco Free Missouri, “It is essential to provide resources to help Missourians overcome this addiction to live healthier lifestyles.”

For full details on the Governor’s veto, click here

Legislative fix would force cheap tobacco companies to raise prices and protect millions in state budget

March 12, 2014 – Tobacco Free Missouri (TFM) joined health organizations and associations urging Missouri legislators to pass legislation that would protect state budget resources and result in raised prices for tobacco companies that sell cheap discount cigarettes.

The legislation, HB 1242 (sponsored by Reps. Rick Stream and Chris Kelly) and SB 820 (sponsored by Sen. Kurt Schaefer), would close a current loophole within the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA).  By closing the loophole, millions of dollars in Missouri revenue could go towards programs such as health care for low-income Missourians (Medicaid), education and tobacco cessation.  In addition, the change would result in smaller, discount tobacco companies increasing the price of their cigarettes. Missouri is the only state that participated in the 1998 MSA that has failed to close this loophole for nonparticipating manufactures.

“We support legislative changes that would force discount tobacco companies to raise their prices because higher cigarette prices discourage smoking, particularly for younger people,” said Traci Kennedy, Director of TFM. “The higher the prices, the harder to get hooked on cigarettes.”

In accordance with the MSA, tobacco companies are required to pay into an escrow account each year.  Monies paid into this account were awarded to the states as retribution for the costs associated with smoking related death and disease.  The problem in Missouri is that funds paid in by smaller tobacco companies, are released back to the companies.  It is imperative that Missouri comply with the standards set by the MSA or be in jeopardy of losing the $130 million received each year.  Thus far, the state has failed to invest these dollars in tobacco prevention and cessation.  Legislators have the opportunity to close the loophole and commit to investing in the health of Missourians.




Missouri’s Big Miss: New CDC Report Highlights State Lagging in Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Efforts

 January 30, 2014 – Columbia, MO – Missouri is falling behind when it comes to funding efforts to reduce tobacco use through proven tobacco prevention and cessation programs. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs—2014, an evidence-based guide to help states plan and establish programs to reduce tobacco use, including recommended funding levels for tobacco prevention and cessation efforts.

The CDC recommends that Missouri invest a minimum of $50 million on tobacco control programs.  Last year the state dedicated just $76,000 to help prevent young people from starting to use tobacco and help those already addicted to quit.  Meanwhile, Missourians’ addiction to nicotine is costing taxpayers $2.13 billion in annual health care costs related to smoking.  The state tobacco tax is the lowest in the nation at $0.17.

“Evidence continues to show that investing in tobacco prevention saves lives and money.  This is responsible fiscal policy that guarantees a positive return on investment,” said Traci Kennedy, director of Tobacco Free Missouri. “Helping current smokers quit and preventing young people from ever starting prepares Missouri for a brighter future by reducing the costs of death and disease that currently plague our state.”

Missouri has made positive steps recently in the fight against tobacco with 25 communities protecting employees from secondhand smoke in the workplace through comprehensive smokefree laws.  Yet, use of this toxic and addictive product is still the number one preventable cause of death in the country and in the state.  Research shows there are proven, effective ways to reduce tobacco’s toll by regularly and significantly increasing the price of tobacco, passing comprehensive smoke-free laws and adequately funding tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

Investing in these programs can create real change in Missouri.  Fewer young people are picking up the habit with the high school and middle school smoking rates dropping 4.0% and 14.9% respectively between 2009 – 2013.  With 63% of current smokers intending to quit in the next six months, support for the Missouri Quitline including nicotine replacement therapy like patches and gum, would greatly serve the state.

Celebrating Missouri’s Smokefree Cities

9/5/2013-Today Tobacco Free Missouri announced plans to celebrate Missouri’s smokefree cities at this year’s Missouri Municipal League Conference in Branson, Missouri.

[button link=””] Read Press Release[/button]


Unhealthy Air in St Charles Public Places – Risk for Heart Attack

Embargoed until 7 p.m. May 20th, 2013
Contact: Don & Kay Young, kay [AT] youngchoices [DOT] org

St Charles city council members received a report Monday that showed air quality measured as unhealthy in public places where smoking is allowed. The study released by Smokefree St. Charles County found restaurants, bars and other public places that allow smoking have high levels of fine particulate matter (PM) pollution.

Because the extremely small particles of PM pollution are easily inhaled deep into the lungs, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined that exposure can aggravate lung conditions and can be a cause of asthma and bronchitis. The EPA also found people with heart disease or emphysema are at increased risk.[1]

The air quality report found the average PM level for a smokefree public place in St Charles was rated as “good” by EPA standards. In contrast, the average PM levels were nine times greater in public places that allowed smoking and was rated as “unhealthy.”

The report noted a full-time employee in one of these public places that allowed smoking would be exposed to 140 percent the EPA’s average annual daily limit for PM air pollution.

Only seven percent of people in these public places were actually smoking at any given time, which is a fraction of the 18 percent adult smoking prevalence for St Charles County.[2] Yet, these few active smokers significantly impacted air quality.

Not only does secondhand smoke damage the lungs, but the EPA reiterates it can damage the heart as well. Particles can be so small that they pass through the lungs into the blood stream. Moreover, a growing number of studies demonstrated significant declines in hospital admissions for heart attacks after communities implemented smokefree ordinances. Published studies found an average 14-17 percent decline in hospital admissions for heart attacks within the first year alone in communities that implemented an ordinance for smokefree public places and workplaces.[3,4]

“This is first and foremost an issue of public health,” said Kay Young of smoke-free St. Charles County. “The scientific evidence is consistent there is a causal relationship between secondhand smoke and heart disease. A 14-17 percent decline in heart attacks in communities with a smokefree ordinance is not a minor thing. We encourage policies for smokefree workplaces and public places as a compelling, yet simple way to reduce heart attacks in our community.”

The air quality report and other information may be obtained from the Tobacco Free Missouri website,



[1] Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

[2] Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services’ County Level Study

[3] Lightwood, James, PhD,, “Declines in Acute Myocardial Infarction After Smoke-Free Laws and Individual Risk Attributable to Secondhand Smoke”, Circulation, October 6, 2009; 120:1373-1379

[4] Meyers, David G., MD, Cardiovascular Effects of Bans on Smoking in Public Places, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 54:14, 2009

Tobacco Free Missouri Holds Capitol Day to Stand Up Against Tobacco

students in capitol tell why they're standing up against tobacco

Missouri students stand up against tobacco in state capitol

01/22/2013-On January 23, members of Tobacco Free Missouri gathered along with other groups from across the state—including the American Heart Association and American Lung Association—in the Missouri State Capitol to educate legislators, Capitol staff, and visitors about the burden of tobacco in Missouri.

This Tobacco Free Missouri Capitol Day also featured youth from across the state displaying more than 2,000 messages depicting why they Stand Up Against Tobacco and a rally in the first floor Rotunda discussing the release of Tobacco Free Missouri’s Air Quality study and the American Lung Association’s Report Card giving our state an F for tobacco control efforts.

“Having nearly 100 advocates including young people attend this Capitol Day makes the statement that Missourians are passionate about their health and the right to breathe clean air,” said Dr. Everett, Board Chair of Tobacco Free Missouri. “Through prevention, cessation and policy efforts we look forward to continued progress to reduce the burden of tobacco in our state.”

Missouri has one of the highest adult smoking rates in the nation, and significant tobacco-related disparities in rural areas of the state. Despite these challenges, coupled with the lowest tobacco tax in the nation, strides are being made.  Currently, 21 communities have comprehensive smoke-free policies protecting all employees from secondhand smoke.  Advocates have worked to educate their communities about the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke exposure and to support policy change efforts. Missouri was also recently recognized for having the second-highest number of comprehensive smokefree ordinances pass in the country in 2012.


Let Missouri Leaders Know Why You are Standing up against Tobacco

Notecard download for Show Me PALSShow Me PALS is sponsoring a project called “Stand Up Against Tobacco and let our voices be heard.” The organization is gathering notecards across the state and they want to hear from you. Download and print out a card then handwrite a note telling us why you are standing up against tobacco. Our goal is to get 1,180 note cards, to represent the number of lives lost annually in Missouri due to secondhand smoke. The cards will then be shared with local legislators on January 23 during Tobacco Free Missouri’s Capitol Day.

Tobacco costs Missouri lives and dollars. The facts are staggering. Each year:

  • 9,362 Missourians die from tobacco-related diseases
  • 18 million packs of cigarettes are bought or smoked by Missouri youth
  • Each household spends an average of $565 in state and federal tax dollars to cover expenses to the public that have been caused by smoking
  • 8,600 Missouri youth will start smoking this year
  • 1,180 lives are lost due to secondhand smoke

“It’s bad enough that tobacco is killing thousands of smokers in our state, but the fact that 1,180 people in Missouri are dying every single year due to secondhand smoke is unbearable,” states Alex Higginbotham, vice president of Show Me PALS. “This is just one way for us to show our legislators that we’ve had enough. So stand with us this January and make sure our voices are heard.”

Send in your own card, or better yet, print out cards to bring into local coalition meetings with other health advocates or staff an event booth to ask community members to fill out a card.

Please mail in the completed notecards by December 15th to:

Joyce Lara
Youth Coordinator
Tobacco Free Missouri
1 Riverbend Place
Washington, MO 63090

For more information contact Joyce Lara, Tobacco Free Missouri, Youth Coordinator at 573-823-3809 or laraj@health.missouri.

[button link=”” newwindow=”yes”] Download Notecard[/button]



Missouri Comes in Last, Again

For Immediate Release

11/7/2012-Defeated by a narrow margin, the failure to pass Proposition B secured Missouri’s position as dead last in tobacco control.  The initiative would have raised our lowest-in-the-nation tobacco tax from its current 17 cents to 90 cents. Even with the proposed increase, Missouri would still trail 32 other states with higher taxes.  The national average is $1.49. At the polls, the measure failed by 49.2 percent to 50.8 percent.

“This truly is a disappointment,” remarked Traci Kennedy, Director of Tobacco Free Missouri, “I refuse to believe that Missourians would prefer to protect the interests of Big Tobacco and the bottom line of convenience stores over the interest of our children.”

Tobacco Free Missouri collaborated with Show Me a Brighter Future and supporting partners the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, American Heart Association and many other health and education organizations to move the initiative forward.

“Tobacco Free Missouri and its partnering organizations will continue to push forward to eliminate the burden of tobacco use in our state,” states Kennedy.  Despite the failure of this measure, twenty-one communities in Missouri have implemented comprehensive clean indoor air ordinances with several other coalitions forming to tackle the topic across the state.

Kennedy encourages advocates to continue their work and focus on the health and well-being of all Missourians. “Despite the legislature’s inability to take on Big Tobacco, advocates across the state continue their work at the grassroots level and the results are impressive.”

Tobacco Free Missouri wishes to thank all of the committed volunteers that worked to educate voters about the importance of Proposition B.  Despite this setback, the statewide coalition will continue to move forward looking toward the 2013 legislative session and expanding momentum at the local level.


ABOUT TOBACCO FREE MISSOURI: The mission of Tobacco Free Missouri is to eliminate the health and economic burdens of tobacco in Missouri. Since 2007, Tobacco Free Missouri has worked with its partners to reduce tobacco use and eliminate secondhand smoke exposure for all Missourians through education and policy change. For more information, please visit