St. Louis Public Radio News
2:49 pm
Tue September 21, 2010

Report: Missourian smoking rate much higher than national average

ST. LOUIS – A new report from Washington University is calling for an increase in statewide tobacco-control efforts.

Based on a 2007 survey of 50,000 people, the report shows Missourians smoke at a rate far higher than the national average. Medicare recipients, the uninsured and gay Missourians showed the highest levels of smoking.

Sarah Shelton is a researcher with the Center for Tobacco Policy Research. She says those with little education or income have few resources to help them quit.

"Smokers in the lowest income category were more likely to make a quit attempt in the last 6 months but less likely to think they would be successful in a quit attempt," Shelton said.

Kendre Isreal is with Washington University's Center for Tobacco Policy Research. She said that community efforts like indoor smoking bans aren't enough to protect all Missourians.

"Unless action is taken at the state level, many populations will continue to face disparities because they're not protected," Isreal said.

Israel says a tobacco tax increase and statewide smoking ban are needed to curb Missouri smoking. Missouri has the nation's lowest tobacco tax.