The latest report on how well states are funding tobacco prevention and cessation efforts has Missouri ranked as one of the worst states in the nation.

Every year the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids issues an annual report on how well the states have kept their promise to use money from the $250 billion state tobacco settlement to protect kids from tobacco.  Missouri still collects money from the 16 year old legal settlement.

Missouri ranks 50th among the states and the District of Columbia.  New Jersey, which is spending zero dollars on prevention, is the only state that ranks below Missouri.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has a recommendation for what each state should spend on tobacco prevention.  The rankings are based on what the CDC recommends and what the state actually spends.

The CDC recommends an annual spending of 73 million dollars for Missouri, but the state is only spending 71,000 thousand dollars.  That’s one-tenth of one percent of the recommended amount by the CDC.

Director of Communications for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids John Schachter says this year Missouri will receive 231 million dollars from tobacco taxes and the legal settlement with tobacco manufacturers.

“The state is literally sacrificing the health and lives of their children and the future of the state for no good reason.”

“Missouri has to pay nearly $3 billion in annual health care costs due to tobacco related illnesses,” said Schachter.  “If you look at the numbers, it’s probably too profitable for a state not to spend this on tobacco prevention.”

Schachter says prevention programs typically include aggressive media campaigns, TV commercials, social media outreach, partnerships with local organizations and student groups, and helplines.  The goal is to educate kids why they should not smoke and to help people who smoke quit.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids was established in the late 1990s around the time of the tobacco settlement.  Its goal is to decrease tobacco use among the population, especially among children.  The organization focuses on helping states pass more funding for tobacco prevention programs, raising a tobacco tax, and passing smoke-free policies.