Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

Business and health leaders on Thursday announced an ambitious initiative to convince elected officials in the dozens of municipalities throughout the Kansas City area to raise the legal age for buying cigarettes from 18 to 21.

Spearheaded by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, “Tobacco 21 | KC” aims to build on a movement that now counts nearly 100 communities around the country and the state of Hawaii that have made 21 the legal age for purchasing tobacco products.


A study to be published in an upcoming issue of JAMA Pediatrics is the first to find a causal link between young people using e-cigarettes and then moving on to tobacco products.

The study, funded by the National Cancer Institute, followed a national sample of 700 16- to 26-year-old non-smokers. When first surveyed, all of them said they did not think they would smoke a traditional cigarette within the next year, even if offered one by a friend.


Erica Anderson, a health promotion specialist for the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, likes to tell a story about a woman who came to one of her workshops eager to talk about electronic cigarettes.

The woman, who was pregnant, said she was in a restaurant when a man at the table next to her started puffing on an e-cigarette, which delivers nicotine to users in a vapor. As the white cloud of vapor wafted over to her, she got up and asked the restaurant owner to tell the man to stop.

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A coalition of health organizations is supporting Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s call for a big increase in the state’s cigarette tax.

Brownback is proposing to raise the tax by $1.50 per pack, increasing it from 79 cents to $2.29. The governor wants to use the approximately $81 million in additional revenue to close a gaping hole in the fiscal 2016 budget.

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A business-led group based in Kansas City, Mo., is leading an effort to quadruple Missouri’s lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax and direct the proceeds to early childhood health and education programs.

Organizers of the “Raise Your Hand for Kids” campaign on Friday outlined their plan for a statewide ballot initiative to an audience of about 100 business, education, health and early-childhood leaders at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.

The campaign aims to increase Missouri’s cigarette tax from 17 cents to 67 cents a pack.

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New health rankings  show Kansas stuck at No. 27 among the 50 states, the same slot it occupied last year. But there was a time – not that long ago – when the state ranked much higher than the middle of the pack.

The annual United Health Foundation rankings are a snapshot of 30 health measures ranging from clinical care to behavior and environment to state policy. Dr. Rhonda Randall, the foundation’s chief health advisor, says there’s no mistaking the trend.

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States continue to spend a miniscule portion of the billions of dollars they collect annually in tobacco revenues on smoking prevention and cessation programs, according to a new report by six leading health organizations.  

Missouri spent $76,314 on tobacco prevention in the latest fiscal year, the report says. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended it should have spent nearly $73 million.

Only one state, New Jersey, spent a smaller percentage of its tobacco funds on anti-smoking programs. New Jersey allocated no funds for tobacco prevention.  

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Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week show that between 2005 and 2013, the percentage of U.S. adults who smoked declined from almost 21 percent to slightly less than 18 percent.

That’s the lowest percentage since the CDC began keeping tobacco use records in 1965.

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One of Missouri's largest employers will no longer hire nicotine users.

As of January 1, 2015, MU Health Care, the five-hospital University of Missouri health system based in Columbia, Mo., said it won't offer jobs to people who smoke cigarettes, cigars or pipes, chew tobacco or "vape" electronic cigarettes.

The health system made the announcement Thursday to coincide with the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout holiday.


Call them e-cigarettes, vapes, e-juices or e-liquids. Just don’t call them tobacco.

Early last Thursday, Missouri legislators overwhelmingly overrode the governor’s veto of a bill governing electronic cigarettes and the nicotine-infused mixtures they deliver. While the new law bans sales to minors, it also prevents e-cigarettes from being classified as "tobacco products."

“It was operating under the guise of protecting youth, but really it just created a special carve-out for a special interest,” says Traci Kennedy, executive director of Tobacco-Free Missouri.

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E-cigarettes, or vapes, are a growing trend, but many places ban them right along with the traditional smoking objects they're meant to replace. One of those places is the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

On Wednesday's Up to Date, we look at whether these alternatives should be banned and what we know about them so far.


As a kid growing up in Grandview, Mo., Michael Thompson began smoking cigarettes at the age of 13. Thirty-four years later, in 1997, he came down with lung cancer.

In 2000, he filed a personal injury suit in Jackson County Circuit Court against the makers of the cigarettes he smoked. A jury awarded him $1 million. A state appeals court later upheld the verdict.

In 2009, Thompson died of throat cancer. His widow and children then filed a wrongful death action in state court against  two of the manufacturers, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA.

 In Kansas last year, more than 4,800 women smoked cigarettes during their pregnancies, according to a preliminary summary of birth statistics released Tuesday by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The finding means that in 2013, about one in every eight births - 12.5 percent - involved mothers who smoked for at least three months shortly before or during their pregnancies.


Public options for smokers are becoming few and far between in Kansas City, Mo.

Since 2008, smoking has been banned in bars and restaurants located in Kansas City. The state of Kansas went smoke-free in 2012.

University campus buildings have been smoke-free for years in Kansas City, but beginning Aug. 1, smoking outside on the campus of the University of Missouri-Kansas City will be prohibited.

Republican members of the Missouri House who smoke will still be able to, while Democrats won’t. That's the result of a new House rule adopted today.

Topkea, KS – The top health officer in Kansas is warning smokers to take notice of a recently released report on the dangers of smoking.

The report from the U.S. Surgeon General shows that smoking and second-hand smoke cause immediate damage to the heat and lungs.

State Health Officer Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips says that increases the likely hood of heart attacks and strokes.

Missourians Among Most Likely to Smoke

Nov 7, 2010

Kansas City, MO – New Public Health Data shows Missourians are among the most likely Americans to smoke.

The state ranks fifth in the country for its adult smoking rate, according to new information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Kansas Goes Smoke-Free This Week

Jun 28, 2010

Kansas City, MO – A statewide smoking ban takes effect this week in Kansas.

Lawmakers approved the measure earlier this year. It prohibits smoking in public places, bars and restaurants, but exempts tobacco shops, casino gaming floors, and some private clubs.

Several cities throughout the state, including Lawrence and Overland Park, already have similar bans in place. Wyandotte County approved one about a year and a half ago. But it includes a three year transition period, and means many businesses still allow smoking.

Kansas City, Mo. – Legislation that would ban indoor smoking in public buildings throughout Missouri is being considered by a State Senate Committee

Under the bill, smoking would not be allowed in restaurants, bars, sports arenas, businesses, or any other public building. Exceptions would be allowed for homes not used for daycare, tobacco shops and 20% of hotel rooms. Jason Sharp, who works with cancer patients in Rolla, spoke in favor of the bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee.