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Tobacco Use

Tobacco use costs lives and money. Every year, almost 11,000 Missourians die from tobacco-related diseases. Missouri spends almost $3 billion annually to treat smoking-related illness. Additionally, Missouri spends over $3 billion annually in smoking-attributed productivity losses.

In Missouri...

  • The adult smoking rate (19.4 percent in 2018) is the tenth highest in the U.S.
  • The smoking rate for Missouri’s pregnant women is 15.3 percent, more than double the national rate of 7.2 percent.
  • The smoking rate among high school students continues to decline and was at 9.2 percent in 2017 which is only slightly higher than the national average (8.8 percent). However, when considering other types of tobacco products like spit tobacco and electronic cigarettes in addition to smoking, the rate of use among Missouri high school
    youth in 2017 jumps to 20.8 percent.
  • Nearly 9 out of 10 cigarette smokers first try cigarette smoking by age 18, and 98% first try smoking by age 26.

Youth Tobacco Use Prevention

Smoking threatens the health of thousands of young people in Missouri every year. Almost 9% of high school students in Missouri smoke.

Children and adolescents who smoke are less physically fit and have more respiratory illnesses than their peers who don’t smoke. Smoking during childhood is related to impaired lung growth, chronic coughing and wheezing. It also speeds up the decline of lung function during late adolescence and early adulthood.

Youth who smoke often continue smoking into adulthood, which increases their risk for lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and other serious health problems.

If the current rate of youth smoking continues, approximately 128,000 youth in Missouri will die prematurely. Because it is often difficult to stop smoking or using tobacco products, preventing youth from ever starting to use tobacco products is key to reducing tobacco use among Missourians of all ages.

Missouri schools have the opportunity to help protect youth from the harmful effects of tobacco use and exposure. Setting a comprehensive tobacco and vape-free school policy that prohibits all tobacco and vaping product use is one step in building a healthier future for youth, shielding them from the chronic and deadly diseases associated with tobacco use. School policies that include a 100% tobacco and vape-free environment prepare students for an ever-increasing tobacco-free world, where tobacco and vaping products are prohibited in worksites, restaurants, airplanes, malls, college campuses, and more.

This toolkit provides the details and tools to assist in instituting a comprehensive tobacco and vape-free school policy. It contains helpful information about adopting, communicating, and enforcing a comprehensive tobacco and vape-free school policy.

missouri resource guide for tobacco and vape free schools

For information on youth tobacco use and how to prevent it, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For help to quit using tobacco products, visit Resources for Youth (under age 18).

Tobacco Education Resources

Get Smart About Tobacco” colorful poster Get Smart About Tobacco – Grades 3-5
A health and science education program for teachers, student worksheets, and parent resources that teach students the facts about the dangers of tobacco and related products.

Get Smart About Tobacco” colorful poster Get Smart About Tobacco – Grades 6-7
A health and science education program for teachers, student worksheets, and parent resources that give students health and science facts about the dangers of tobacco and related products.

E-Cigarette examples What’s New in Teen Tobacco and E-cigarette Use for Teachers

Electronic Cigarettes and Youth

factsheet image - e-cigarettes are risky for young peopleAcross the nation, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are the most commonly used tobacco product among youth. From 2017 to 2018, use of e- cigarettes (commonly referred to as vaping) among youth increased by 78%, resulting in over 3.6 million U.S. middle and high school students using the product in 2018. The significant increase in youth use prompted the Food and Drug Administration to classify e-cigarette use among youth as an epidemic. In response to the epidemic, the Department of Health and Senior Services’ Tobacco Prevention and Control Program (TPCP) has a free Train-the-Trainer webinar and resources for adult community members on Teen Vaping.

Resources for Adults

E-Cigarette Presentation for Youth

  • Know the Risks: A Youth Guide to E-Cigarettes 
    Description: Developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Office on Smoking and Health, this presentation is designed to educate youth on e-cigarettes, including the health risks, the factors that lead to e-cigarette use, and what youth can do to avoid all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. This resource is intended for adults who educate or serve youth ages 11 – 18. Resources available on the CDC link (above) include the presentation PowerPoint, talking points, and information for users.