Blunt Announces Increases in Tobacco-Prevention Funding

Jan. 8, 2008 – Smoking cigarettes has been called the most dangerous thing a person can legally do.

To help people kick the habit, Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt announced he would recommend budgeting $11.6 million to help Missourians quit smoking and prevent young people from getting hooked on tobacco. The announcement was made Jan. 8 during a press conference at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the Siteman Cancer Center.

Blunt says he is recommending the 50-fold increase to create a statewide comprehensive smoking cessation initiative. It would be part of Blunt’s plan to improve Missourians’ health, enhance healthcare services for low-income Missourians and support ongoing access to care for the nearly 830,000 Missourians served by Mo HealthNet.

“Many Missourians want to improve their health and quality of life by quitting smoking, and our plan will provide comprehensive assistance to help them achieve this goal,” Blunt says. “This unprecedented investment will significantly enhance our tobacco cessation and prevention efforts by helping more Missourians make healthier lifestyle choices.”

At the press conference, Timothy Eberlein, MD, Siteman Cancer Center’s director, Graham Colditz, PhD, Siteman’s associate director for prevention and control, and representatives from the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and American Lung Association applauded the news.

“Last year, 4,500 Missourians died from tobacco-related illnesses," says Steven Lipstein, president and CEO of BJC HealthCare, which hosted the press conference. "Decreasing the high rate of smoking in our state will have a positive impact on the health of our citizens."

Blunt’s budget recommendation for tobacco cessation includes:

  • $8,642,000 to create a new smoking cessation initiative within Mo HealthNet
  • $2 million for tobacco prevention programs for young people
  • $1 million for the Missouri Tobacco Quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW)