The American Lung Association today responded to the Maine Legislature’s failure to include critical tobacco prevention and control measures in the state budget agreement. In addition to voting out language proposed by Governor Mills that would end the sale of flavored tobacco products from the budget proposal the legislature also failed to restore funding to the tobacco program, resulting in a $5 million annual reduction in funding for life saving prevention and cessation programs throughout the state.
American Lung Association Senior Director for State Advocacy in Maine Lance Boucher said:
“The American Lung Association is greatly disappointed that Maine’s children once again lost in legislative compromises given to Big Tobacco and industry lobbyists. In the past, Maine was a national leader in tobacco prevention efforts; however, the budget agreement reached this week fails to address the youth tobacco epidemic gripping Maine and the nation. Instead of taking steps to address this crisis, the legislature chose to ignore it completely by failing to end the sale of flavored tobacco products that are hooking our kids and setting them up for a lifetime of addiction.
“The legislature further jeopardized the health of Maine youth and those addicted to tobacco by not fully funding the tobacco prevention program at the Maine Center for Disease Control resulting in annual funding decrease of $5 million annually compared to the last biennium. These resources are critical to help prevent youth initiation of tobacco and to help adult smokers quit.
In the midst of a respiratory pandemic, worsened by tobacco use, this is a double blow to the long-term health of Mainers. Today, Maine is failing to protect our children, including the one in three Maine high school students who currently use some form of tobacco. We need leadership and courage from our leaders to stand up to the tobacco industry and address this epidemic through evidence-based policy and investments in the health of all Mainers.”
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.