Maine Named One of Best in Nation for Policies to Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use, with One Glaring Exception: Flavored Tobacco

American Lung Association report reveals best and worst states for tobacco control policies, outlines steps to reduce burden of tobacco in Maine
Maine is listed as one of the states with the best policies to prevent and reduce tobacco use, according to the American Lung Association’s 21st annual “State of Tobacco Control” report, released today. The state earned mostly passing grades on this year’s report, with only one exception: an F on Flavored Tobacco Products.

The “State of Tobacco Control” report evaluates state and federal policies on actions taken to eliminate tobacco use and recommends proven-effective tobacco control laws and policies to save lives. This is critical, as tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in America and takes the lives of 2,390 Maine residents each year.

“Last year, we were pleased to see the state legislature significantly increase funding for the Maine tobacco control program to the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  As a result, Maine’s ‘State of Tobacco Control’ grade in the funding category improved from a C last year to an A this year,” said Lance Boucher, Director of Advocacy at the American Lung Association in Maine. “This is important progress, and the Lung Association calls on the legislature to continue to provide funding at this level as there are still too many Maine residents who are impacted by tobacco use, like the 15.6% of adults who smoke and the 33% of high school students who use tobacco.”

Maine’s Grades 
The “State of Tobacco Control” report grades states and the District of Columbia in five areas that have been proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use and save lives. In the 2023 report, Maine received the following grades: 
  1. Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade A
  2. Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws – Grade A
  3. Level of State Tobacco Taxes – Grade C
  4. Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – Grade A
  5. Ending the Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products – Grade F 
This year’s report noted the need for Maine policymakers to focus on ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. According to the 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey, more than 2.5 million high school and middle school students use e-cigarettes, and more 85% of those kids use flavored e-cigarettes. In addition, menthol cigarettes continue to be the major cause of tobacco-related death and disease in Black communities, with over 80% of Black Americans who smoke using them. Ending the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol, will not only help end youth vaping, but will also help address the disproportionate impact of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars have on many communities, including Black Americans, LGBTQ+ Americans and youth.  

Additionally, the report notes that Maine is due to increase tobacco taxes. One of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use, not only among low-income individuals but also for youth, is to significantly increase the tax on all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. Multiple studies have shown that every 10% increase in the price of cigarettes reduces consumption by about 4% among adults and about 7% among youth. Maine has not increased its tobacco tax since 2015 and should increase its tax by at least $2.00 per pack.

Federal Grades Overview
The report also grades the federal government on their efforts to eliminate tobacco use. This year, there were new steps taken by the government to prevent and reduce tobacco use, including proposed rules to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, Congress passing a law requiring the FDA to regulate tobacco products made with synthetic nicotine, and increased federal enforcement of the Tobacco Control Act. As a result of these steps forward, the federal government’s grade for “Federal Regulation of Tobacco Products” improved from a “D” grade last year, to a “C” grade in the 2023 report.

The 2023 “State of Tobacco Control” report grades the federal government in five areas: 
  • Federal Government Regulation of Tobacco Products – Grade C
  • Federal Coverage of Quit Smoking Treatments – Grade D
  • Level of Federal Tobacco Taxes – Grade F
  • Federal Mass Media Campaigns to Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use – Grade A
  • Federal Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Incomplete
FDA is overdue in publishing the final Tobacco 21 regulations as required by statute, which is why it earns an “incomplete.”  

To learn more about this year’s “State of Tobacco Control” grades and take action, visit Lung.org/sotc.

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