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Missouri gets 'F' for tobacco control policies, in new report from American Lung Association

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A new report by the American Lung Association gives Missouri failing grades on all its state tobacco control policies. As St. Louis Public Radio's Véronique LaCapra reports, the only bright spots were an expansion of state Medicaid coverage for smokers wanting to quit, and a surge in local community initiatives.

The American Lung Association gave Missouri an “F” for its low spending on tobacco prevention and control, minimal 17 cent cigarette tax, and lack of state-wide smoke-free air laws. The report did commend the state as one of only three to expand Medicaid coverage of quit-smoking programs. 

But 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"  says Missouri Foundation for Health program officer Matthew Kuhlenbeck.  He says local organizations "create smoke-free environments, as well as work with their local employers and other groups to expand coverage to cessation services.”

Kuhlenbeck says the challenge is to have those local efforts trickle up into state-wide policies.

Véronique LaCapra first caught the radio bug while writing commentaries for NPR affiliate WAMU in Washington, D.C. After producing her first audio pieces at the Duke Center for Documentary Studies in N.C., she was hooked! She has done ecological research in the Brazilian Pantanal; regulated pesticides for the Environmental Protection Agency in Arlington, Va.; been a freelance writer and volunteer in South Africa; and contributed radio features to the Voice of America in Washington, D.C. She earned a Ph.D. in ecosystem ecology from the University of California in Santa Barbara, and a B.A. in environmental policy and biology from Cornell. LaCapra grew up in Cambridge, Mass., and in her mother’s home town of Auxerre, France.
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