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Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in Maine. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association calls for the following actions to be taken by Maine's elected officials:

  1. Restore the funding cut from the Maine tobacco control program and increase funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended level;
  2. Raise the cigarette tax by a minimum of $1.50 per pack and equalize the excise tax across all tobacco products; and
  3. Enact legislation prohibiting flavors in all tobacco products.
2018 was the "short session" of the Maine Legislature and as a result saw fewer bills being introduced that focused on tobacco. A major victory was realized in the early days of the 2018 session when a perennial bad bill that would have allowed the licensing of tobacco retailers to serve alcohol in their establishments was defeated by an overwhelming margin. This measure has been introduced regularly with the margin of defeat growing thus protecting Maine's strong smokefree laws from rollbacks.

During 2018, now former Governor LePage continued to object to the state's Tobacco 21 law approved over his veto in 2017. However, the legislature made no serious attempts to revisit the issue, and the law was implemented on July 1, 2018 without any delays. This is a big victory for the Lung Association and the state of Maine. The Lung Association thanks our supporters in the legislature for standing strong on this issue.

The Lung Association also spent a significant amount of time in 2018 engaging and educating legislators who were working on Maine's recreational marijuana implementation to ensure that their efforts did not undermine the state's smokefree laws.

The American Lung Association in Maine will continue to work with our coalition partners the Maine Public Health Association, the American Heart Association, Maine Medical Association, American Cancer Society and others to advance tobacco control and prevention efforts and defend our successful programs and smokefree policies against rollbacks. As the legislature begins its work in 2019 we will continue to grow our coalition to educate policy makers, business leaders and the media of the importance of the American Lung Association's goals to reduce tobacco use and protect public health

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