AUGUSTA – June 30, 2017 – This statement is being issued in response to the legislature’s decision to re-allocate $10 million in tobacco settlement dollars in the state budget deal, including $2 million per year in cuts to Maine’s tobacco control program, as well as making additional deep cuts to statewide programs critical in fighting tobacco use. These funds – sourced from a nationwide tobacco Master Settlement Agreement – are paid to the state from the tobacco industry, aimed at compensating for disease and death caused by the tobacco industry.
A coalition of public health groups in Maine, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the American Lung Association and the American Heart Association, issued the following statement:
“It is important to remember that Maine receives nearly $200 million annually from tobacco related revenue including the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). The MSA was established to recognize the death and disease caused by Big Tobacco and was intended to be used to combat future tobacco use: tonight’s decision by the legislature is a breach of trust that those dollars would be used to protect future generations from tobacco’s carnage,” said Lance Boucher, director of public policy for Maine and New Hampshire for the American Lung Association of the Northeast
“Tobacco use costs Maine $811 million in health care bills each year and approximately $262 million in state Medicaid costs. Tobacco prevention is one of the smartest and most fiscally responsible investments that Maine can make. It not only helps current smokers quit, but also prevents our youth from ever starting a lifetime of addiction to tobacco,” said Becky Smith, government relations director for Maine for the American Heart Association
“Re-allocating MSA funds, particularly those cuts made directly to the state’s tobacco control program, simply does not make sense. The amount Maine currently spends on tobacco prevention and control pales in comparison to the estimated $42.8 million the tobacco industry spends annually to market their products in this state,” said Hilary Schneider, director of government relations in Maine for ACS CAN.
“The state has been successful in reducing tobacco use and we are seeing reductions in cancer now because of it. The dramatic reductions occurred after Maine successfully implemented a comprehensive strategy – increasing tobacco taxes, legislating smoke-free environments, and putting funding into our tobacco prevention and control programs,” continued Schneider.
“While we have made great progress, now is not the time to turn back in the fight against tobacco use in Maine. A comprehensive approach to tobacco prevention and control will lead to a healthier workforce, healthier families, and healthier future generation Mainers.”
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.