AUGUSTA, ME | January 23, 2024
A new report from the American Lung Association urges Maine lawmakers to focus on endings the sale of menthol cigarettes and all flavored tobacco products to reduce the burden of tobacco use. The 2024 “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. Maine received one F, one C, one B and two As for policies to improve statewide efforts to prevent and reduce tobacco use.
“Tobacco use is the leading cause of death in Maine and across the country, and takes the lives of 2,390 state residents each year. The tobacco industry will do anything to protect their profits at the expense of Maine lives, so we must push forward in our efforts to prevent and reduce tobacco use,” said Lance Boucher at the American Lung Association in Maine. “This year, we are working with state policymakers to focus on
ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. We know that kids are attracted to flavored e-cigarettes, and that menthol cigarettes continue to be the major cause of tobacco-related death and disease in Black communities, with over 80% of Black individuals who smoke using them. Ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, will not only help end youth vaping, but will address health disparities.”
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 2024 report, Maine received the following grades:
- Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade A
- Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws – Grade B
- Level of State Tobacco Taxes – Grade C
- Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – Grade A
- Ending the Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products – Grade F
“We strongly urge the Governor and Maine Legislature to build upon the momentum of the six local communities that have acted already to end the sale of flavored tobacco products. Passage of LD 1215 will result in statewide action ensuring all Maine kids from Kittery to Madawaska are protected from the efforts of the tobacco industry to addict them to nicotine,” Boucher concluded, “Additionally, we are working closely with Maine officials to end the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies as well as preserve full funding of Maine’s tobacco prevention and control program.”
Federal Grades Overview
This year’s report focuses on recent federal actions, including President Biden’s failure to finalize rules to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, as well as FDA’s overdue review of all applications for e-cigarette products, including flavors that are popular among youth. Because of the delay on the federal rules to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, it is even more important for states to enact laws to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products.
The 2024 “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 remains grossly overdue in publishing the final Tobacco 21 regulations as required by statute, which is why it earns an “incomplete.”
The Lung Association calls on the White House to urgently finalize rules to end the sales of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars in the U.S. to save lives now. Send an email to President Biden at Lung.org/Stop-Menthol to insist these rules be finalized urgently. To learn more about this year’s “State of Tobacco Control” grades and take action, visit Lung.org/sotc.
Get involved and help the mission of the American Lung Association. The Trek Across Maine is coming up on June 14 -16 starting in Brunswick, Maine. Learn more at CycleForAir.org
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, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Platinum-Level GuideStar Member, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org. To support the work of the American Lung Association, find a local event at Lung.org/events.
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