MISSOURI - A new American Lung Association report released Wednesday said Missouri failed to protect children from big tobacco. The report said Missouri failed to invest in programs and policies proven to reduce tobacco use according to the "State of Tobacco Control 2013" report.
The report tracks progress on key tobacco control policies at the federal and state level, and then assigns grades based on whether laws are adequately protecting citizens from the toll of tobacco use on lives and the economy.
Missouri received the following grades for 2012.
Tobacco Prevention and Control Program Funding: F
Smokefree Air: F
Cigarette Tax: F
Cessation Coverage: F
"Missouri has the unfortunate distinction of failing to make progress in the fight against tobacco use in 2012, meanwhile big tobacco was busy honing clever new tactics to lure new youth smokers," said Sara Dreiling, Chief Executive Officer of the American Lung Association, Plains-Gulf Region.
Tobacco causes approximately 9,584 deaths in Missouri annually and $4,755,871,000 in healthcare costs and lost productivity.
The National Institute on Money in State Politics said in a report that tobacco companies gave $53.4 million to state candidates for office, political parties and to opposition for tobacco-related ballot measures.
The report lists Missouri as a state where tobacco companies gave significant amounts of money to candidates.
"It's time Missouri removes big tobacco's welcome mat," said Dreiling. "Leaders in Jefferson City must provide smokers with the support they need to quit and adequately fund programs that help keep our kids off tobacco."
"We can no longer allow the Show Me State to be the tobacco industry's playground," added Dreiling. "It's going to take a great deal of political will, but we are confident our elected officials are up to the challenge. Our kids and current smokers are depending on them for help."
Missouri receives $242 million in tobacco-related revenue annually.