2017 Broken Promises to Our Children Report: Maine Failing When it Comes to Protecting Kids From Tobacco
Legislature must allocate tobacco settlement funds to address tobacco harms
AUGUSTA – December 13, 2017 – Earlier today, The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights and Truth Initiative released the 19th annual Broken Promises to Our Children report on Dec. 13. This report tracks state spending on tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Maine currently spends only 33 percent of the Center for Disease Control recommended amount on tobacco prevention. The state fell ten places from its ranking last year.
The release of the Broken Promises report coincides with a meeting by the Appropriations Committee to review the states most recent revenue forecasting report, in which the Fund for a Healthy Maine (tobacco master settlement funds) revenue estimates were revised upward by $2.7 million for FY18 and by $3.1 million for FY19 (upward by $5.8 million over the 2018-2019 biennium). The estimates for the 2020-2021 biennium were revised upward by $8.8 million. These changes are largely the result of updated national estimates for Tobacco Settlement Payments.
ACS CAN, the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association in Maine call on the Maine Legislature to allocate the unanticipated revenue to restore the cuts made to the state tobacco control program in the biennial budget proposal and use any remaining funds to double-down on our efforts of youth tobacco prevention.
“Maine receives settlement funds from the tobacco industry specifically to address the harms done by tobacco in this state yet in the last state budget, the Legislature chose to cut the amount of tobacco settlement funds being used to prevent and reduce tobacco use.” said Hilary Schneider, director of government relations in Maine for ACS CAN. “The roughly $5 million Maine currently spends on tobacco prevention and cessation pales in comparison to the nearly $42 million the tobacco industry spends annually to market their products in this state. The most recent cuts to the state tobacco control program resulted in an elimination of the state’s “counter-marketing” contract, funding used, in part, to protect young people from falling victim to the manipulative marketing schemes of Big Tobacco.”
“The youth tobacco use trends in Maine are alarming. The relentless marketing by an industry bent on causing our kids to become full-fledged nicotine addicts is virtually unchecked in our state. Even in the new “vaping” products, most still contain harmful and addictive nicotine. The American Heart Association fears new generations will continue to be chained to tobacco,” said Becky Smith, director of government relations in Maine for the American Heart Association.
“Maine's ongoing addiction to tobacco is demonstrated by both youth and adult smoking rates, which are higher than the national averages,” said Lance Boucher, director of public policy in Maine and New Hampshire for the American Lung Association. “With nearly one in four Maine High School youth using tobacco, the Legislature's decision to cut Maine’s already underfunded tobacco program by $2.5 million is shortsighted, dangerous and certain to move us backward. As Big Tobacco continues to target Maine’s youth, fueling tobacco addiction and grooming the next generation of ‘replacement smokers,’ our elected officials have surrendered our children's future by slashing vital tobacco programs. The Broken Promises report shows that our state has a long way to go to counter the lies and deceptive tactics of the industry in order to protect the health of Mainers.”
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.fightcancer.org.