Missouri is getting federal grant money to combat two epidemics that are hitting our population hard — smoking and obesity.

Missouri has the nation’s lowest cigarette tax and a high rate of smokers. When it comes to obesity rates, the state’s not doing much better. Doctor James Kimmey says the Missouri Foundation for Health will use more than $8 million dollars to fight both problems.

Kimmey says the federal government has awarded $50 million nationwide; the $2 million Missouri is getting will be matched by state and local grants.

On the smoking front, Kimmey says they’ll work to reform local policy to ban smoking indoors. He says a statewide ban — such as other states like California has enacted — has not been embraced by Missouri. Therefore, he points to cities like Columbia as an example, the foundation will work with local municipalities that want to make their communities smoke free.

The foundation will work with communities to combat obesity by offering programs that promote healthy eating and exercise, especially in communities that lack resources.

Jessica Machetta reports [Download / listen Mp3, 1:13 min.]