Cancer Advocates Release "State of the State of Tobacco Control" - Urge Legislators to Protect Mainers from Big Tobacco

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State issue overview lays out blueprint for combatting tobacco use in Maine

AUGUSTA –  Hours before Governor LePage is set to deliver his State of the State address, cancer survivors, advocates and caregivers from across the state traveled to Augusta to join with coalition partners to outline the State of the State of Tobacco Control in Maine and urge lawmakers to support policies that would help fight tobacco use. Specifically, advocates asked lawmakers to support increasing funding for the state’s tobacco control program by restoring $2.5 million in cuts made to the program in last year’s biennial budget and to protect Maine’s smoke-free workplaces and public places laws.

While Maine has made tremendous strides in reducing tobacco use, declines in smoking rates have slowed in recent years and use of non-cigarette products has increased, especially among youth. Tobacco use remains the largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in Maine and the United States, killing 2,400 Maine adults each year.

The State of the State of Tobacco Control looks at the roots of this problem and proposes evidence based solutions for reducing tobacco use and combatting Big Tobacco’s continued targeting of youth and disparate populations in Maine.  These solutions include 1) Fully funding the state’s tobacco prevention and cessation program 2) Regular and significant increases in tobacco taxes and 3) Preserving the state’s comprehensive smoke-free laws. The issue overview was released as part of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s (ACS CAN’s) annual Day at the Capitol.

Attendees heard from Mary Lou Warn, an ACS CAN advocate and mother of high school children from Waterville. “For decades, the tobacco industry has thrived on the business of addiction by marketing to children and lying to adults about the harms of its deadly products. After the tobacco master settlement and policy advancements over the past decade or so, I thought we were winning the war against this misinformation campaign,” said Warn.

“Little did I know, the industry has continued to develop new products and new marketing campaigns and strategies, intended to find new ways to attract replacement tobacco users. And, little did I know, my kids and their friends could fall victim to this relentless industry. I am here today to say that due to the introduction of new products like electronic cigarettes, none of our kids are safe.”

Also speaking at today’s event was Carol Coles, an ACS CAN advocate who spent over a decade working for the state’s tobacco control program, “I’m here today to remind you that tobacco use is linked to cancer, as well as many other tobacco-related illnesses,” said Coles.

“There are proven strategies that work. What we need now is the political will to make tobacco prevention and cessation efforts a top priority for Maine once again. It’s as simple as that”

Advocates met with lawmakers and provided copies of the State of the State of Tobacco Control, laying out a blueprint for how public policy can bring about change for the one in five adult Mainers who currently smoke, and future generations of Maine youth who are continued targets of tobacco industry marketing.

ACS CAN also presented Senator Paul Davis and Representative Jay McCreight with the organization’s Distinguished Advocacy Award, recognizing their continued commitment to cancer advocacy.

READ THE STATE OF THE STATE OF TOBACCO CONTROL HERE: Reducing Tobacco Use in Maine - Building on success, investing in the future.pdf

About ACS CAN

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem.  ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit www.acscan.org.

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