Missouri health report shows room for improvement in adult smoking

Thursday, June 18, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 6:20 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 12, 2009

COLUMBIA — The state of health in Missouri is lacking, according to Primaris, which released its Missouri Health by the Numbers 2009 report Wednesday.

The report shows that the biggest area for improvement is adult smoking. Missouri has the sixth highest death rate in the nation for adults because of smoking, the report stated.

In January 2007, the Columbia City Council passed an ordinance banning smoking in restaurants, bars and many other public places.

Since then, the Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services has offered smoking cessation programs. Notably, the department offers free counseling sessions and free nicotine patches for up to eight weeks.

The eight-week program, which was initially funded by a grant, has now become a regularly offered program, according to Linda Cooperstock, Missouri public health planner.

Cooperstock said that at first, the department wasn't sure what to expect from the program and the public. “We expected 800, and 1,450 people entered the program,” Cooperstock said.

The Health Department quickly realized the demand for programs geared towards people wanting to quit smoking.

As for how many people take advantage of these programs, Cooperstock said, “I know we started seeing more people in April when the federal tax increase passed.”

The 39-cent increase in the federal tax on cigarettes in April makes the tax $1.01.

For 2009, the Health Department receives on average 43 people a month for the smoking-cessation programs, Cooperstock said.

However, the Health Department isn’t the only one concerned. MU is also looking to provide employees and students with programs to quit the habit.

In January, MU began following a new smoking policy that prohibits smoking within 20 feet of any door of any building owned or leased by MU. MU is aiming toward a smoke-free campus by 2014, according to previous Missourian reports.

MU's Student Health Center also offers programs for students that are already covered under the pre-paid medical cost.

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