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Lung Association Report Card: Missouri's Smoking Policies Fail To Protect

A new report by the American Lung Association puts Missouri near the bottom of the list when it comes to state tobacco control policies.

The report grades states according to their spending on tobacco prevention and control programs, smoke-free air laws, cigarette taxes, and coverage of programs to help smokers quit.

Missouri was one of six states to receive an “F” grade in all four categories.

Missouri Foundation for Health program officer, Matthew Kuhlenbeck, says on the plus side, Missouri was one of only three states to expand its quit-smoking coverage to include all Medicaid enrollees.

 “So it covers for Medicaid participants nicotine replacement gum, patches, lozenges, as well as a couple pharmaceuticals: what's commonly referred to as Chantix and Zyban,” says Kuhlenbeck.

The state Medicaid plan now also covers individual counseling for smokers wanting to quit.

Additionally, Kuhlenbeck says not reflected in the report are Missouri's local anti-smoking initiatives.

 “There's been a lot of organizations and groups who have been trying to increase access to services, create smoke-free environments, as well as work with their local employers and other groups to expand coverage to cessation services,” says Kuhlenbeck.

Missouri has the lowest cigarette tax in the nation, at 17 cents a pack, and among the most tobacco-related deaths.

Veronique is a science & technology reporter for KWMU in St. Louis.
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