American Lung Association Releases Annual Tobacco Report Card for MaineThe American Lung Association released its 13th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report this week, with Maine achieving mixed results in enacting tobacco control policies. Nationally, tobacco control progress is at a virtual standstill, with most states and the federal government earning poor grades in this year’s assessment.
“Maine has a long history of being a leader in tobacco control policies, but Maine’s report card has gone from stellar straight A’s in 2005 to a mediocre mix of grades in 2015,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “We are grateful for the support of the Maine Legislature in significantly improving access to cessation services for smokers who want to quit, but much more can be done. As the tobacco industry spends more than ever to recruit the next generation of smokers, we must prevent cuts to tobacco control funding like those recently proposed in Governor LePage’s budget. We must also increase the price of tobacco products, which will encourage more people to quit while deterring more kids from ever starting to smoke.”
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in Maine, costing over $1 billion every year in healthcare costs, lost productivity and wages.
ALA has the following recommendations for Maine:
1. Enact a cigarette tax increase of at least $1.50 per pack;
2. Protect the Fund for a Healthy Maine and tobacco settlement funding from being utilized for non-approved expenditures; and
3. Enact legislation establishing digital tax stamps for cigarettes.
Ed Miller, Senior Vice President of Public Policy of the American Lung Association of the Northeast, Augusta Maine office, provided the report to Maine media at a press conference held in the State House’s Welcome Center.
“With two D’s on our report card, there is much room for improvement in Maine,” said Ed Miller, Senior Vice President of Public Policy at the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “Leaders in our state must take steps to preserve and adequately fund prevention programs that help keep our kids off tobacco. And they must raise tobacco taxes to deter youth smoking. For over a decade, the Fund for a Healthy Maine has financed prevention effort and produced results. Maine’s youth smoking rate has dropped significantly from 40% in 1997 to 13% in 2013. We’ve gone from having one of the highest youth smoking rates in the nation to a rate that is below the national average. That’s the kind of progress we can make if we focus our resources appropriately and pass policies that follow the science.”