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.