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National Report Ranks Maine 6th in Protecting Kids From Tobacco

Thursday, December 10, 2009 Alcohol & Drug Abuse News J E 4
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 9 Maine ranks 6th in the nation in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a national report released today by a coalition of public health organizations.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080918/CFTFKLOGO)

Maine currently spends $11.8 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 63.6 percent of the $18.5 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last year, Maine ranked 6th, spending $11.7 million on tobacco prevention.

Other key findings for Maine include:

The annual report on states' funding of tobacco prevention programs, titled "A Broken Promise to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 11 Years Later," was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Maine's tobacco prevention program, which launched in 1997 with revenue from a cigarette tax and was later expanded with tobacco settlement money, has been highly successful. Since 1997, Maine has reduced smoking by 71 percent among middle school students and by 64 percent among high school students. The Maine Department of Health has estimated that these smoking declines have prevented more than 26,000 youth from becoming smokers, saved more than 14,000 of them from premature, smoking-caused deaths and already saved more than $416 million in future health care costs.

To continue making progress, health advocates are urging Maine leaders to increase the state cigarette tax by $1 per pack and continue investing in tobacco prevention.

"Maine continues to be a national leader in fighting tobacco and again ranks in the top 10 states this year," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "To continue reducing tobacco use, Maine's leaders should raise the tobacco tax and increase funding for tobacco prevention to the CDC-recommended amount. Even in these difficult budget times, tobacco prevention is a smart investment that reduces smoking, saves lives and saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs."

In Maine, 14 percent of high school students smoke, and 1,400 more kids become regular smokers every year. Each year, tobacco claims 2,200 lives and costs the state $602 million in health care bills.

Eleven years after the 1998 state tobacco settlement, the new report finds that the states this year are collecting record amounts of revenue from the tobacco industry, but are spending less of it on tobacco prevention. Key national findings of the report include:

The report warns that the nation's progress in reducing smoking is at risk unless states increase funding for programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit. The United States has significantly reduced smoking among both youth and adults, but the CDC's most recent survey showed that smoking declines among adults have stalled. Currently 20 percent of high school students and 20.6 percent of adults smoke.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people and costing $96 billion in health care bills each year. Every day, another 1,000 kids become regular smokers - one-third of them will die prematurely as a result.

More information, including the full report and state-specific information, can be obtained at www.tobaccofreekids.org/reports/settlements.

-- Maine this year will collect $195 million from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 6 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs. -- The tobacco companies spend $59 million a year to market their products in Maine. This is 5 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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