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American Lung Association’s ‘State of Tobacco Control 2016’ Gives Maine Mixed Grades for Efforts to Save Lives by Reducing Tobacco Use

(February 3, 2016) -

Today, the American Lung Association released its 14th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report that finds that in 2015 Maine made progress on tobacco control policies that will save lives. The report also finds that most states and the federal government earned poor grades, and the high level of youth use of tobacco products other than cigarettes threatens to undermine the United States’ overall progress in the fight against tobacco-caused death and disease.

 “While we celebrate successful tobacco control policies in Maine like its efforts to include e-cigarettes in the states smokefree public places law we still must face the reality that young people are using tobacco products like e-cigarettes and little cigars at an all-time high, including over 1/3 of Maine high school students reporting having used an e-cigarette” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “Nearly a quarter of high school students nationwide are using tobacco products, and it is essential that Maine continue to take aggressive action to reduce all tobacco use – the #1 cause of preventable death and disease in our nation.”

The “State of Tobacco Control” report documents the progress and failure of the states and the federal government to address tobacco use. The report assigns grades based on whether federal and state laws protect Americans from the enormous toll tobacco use takes on lives and the economy.

State of Tobacco Control 2016” finds Maine’s mixed grades show that progress is possible, although even more needs to be done by our Governor and State Legislature to pass proven policies that will reduce tobacco use and save lives:
• Tobacco Prevention and Control Program Funding – Grade C
• Tobacco Taxes - Grade D
• Smokefree Air - Grade A
• Access to Cessation Services - Grade B

 The American Lung Association of the Northeast calls on Maine to protect the Fund for a Healthy Maine and tobacco set¬tlement funding from being utilized for non-approved purposes, protect Maine’s strong smokefree laws from any roll¬backs or creation of loopholes; and enact a cigarette tax increase of at least $1.50 per pack.  While Maine’s grade for Tobacco Prevention and Control Funding improved a letter grade in this year’s report, much more progress is needed to protect Mainers from the damaging effects of tobacco that threaten individual lives and overall public health.

 As of January 31, 2016, the Obama Administration had not yet given the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversight authority over all tobacco products including cigars, e-cigarettes, little cigars and hookah (commonly referred to as the deeming rule). The grade of “I” for Incomplete for FDA Regulation of Tobacco Products is assigned because the final rule is expected at any time. Other federal grades include a “C” for Federal Cessation Coverage, an “F” for Tobacco Taxes and a “B” for its Mass Media Campaigns, a new grading area in this year’s “State of Tobacco Control” report.

“It’s not a secret how we can reduce tobacco use in this country. ‘State of Tobacco Control 2016’ looks at proven methods to save lives and prevent our children from becoming the next generation hooked on tobacco,” said Lance Boucher, Director of Public Policy at the American Lung Association in Maine.  “We must demand that our elected officials in Maine urgently act to implement these proven policies to save lives. The American Lung Association in Maine will continue to work closely with our partners to ensure that tobacco control funding is not only protected but enhanced.”

For media interested in speaking with an expert about the “State of Tobacco Control” report, lung health, tobacco use and tobacco control policies, contact the American Lung Association at [email protected].

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