KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Kansas and Missouri are failing when it comes to tobacco control policies, according to the American Lung Association.

The group issued its 21st annual “State of Tobacco Control” report.

The report looks at state and federal policies used to eliminate tobacco use. It also recommends tobacco laws that have been proven effective in other areas.

According to the American Lung Association, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in America. It kills more than 4,300 Kansas residents each year.

This gives us an important opportunity to improve the health of our state through proven policies, such as removing penalties for underage youth who purchase tobacco products and raising the legal tobacco sales age to 21 to align with federal law.

Sara Prem, American Lung Association in Kansas

The State of Tobacco Control report grades states in five areas. Kansas received the following grades:

  • Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs
    • F Grade
  • Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws
    • A Grade
  • Level of State Tobacco Taxes
    • F Grade
  • Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco
    • D Grade
  • Ending the Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products
    • F Grade

The report suggests Kansas lawmakers focus on passing legislation to remove criminal penalties and fines for teenagers who illegally buy tobacco products. Instead the group says lawmakers should raise the age to legally buy any type of tobacco to 21.

The American Lung Association also recommends Kansas lawmakers increase funding for tobacco prevention programs as well as initiatives to help people quit smoking.

Despite receiving $180 million from tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes, Kansas only funds tobacco control efforts at 9% of the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

American Lung Association Statement

The Lung Association says it believes the funds should be used to support the health of our communities, and to prevent tobacco use and help people quit, and not switch to e-cigarettes.

Missouri’s grades are even worse.

  • Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs
    • F Grade
  • Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws
    • F Grade
  • Level of State Tobacco Taxes
    • F Grade
  • Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco
    • C Grade
  • Ending the Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products
    • F Grade

Just like in Kansas, the American Lung Association recommends Missouri lawmakers increase funding for tobacco prevention programs as well as initiatives to help people quit smoking.