Three Maine Lawmakers Receive National Distinguished Advocacy Award for Championing Lifesaving Cancer Public Policy
Award is Highest Honor Presented by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
AUGUSTA – Maine Representatives Kristen Cloutier, Jay McCreight and Michele Meyer each received the National Distinguished Advocacy Award this week, the most prestigious award presented by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), in recognition of their significant contributions to the fight against cancer. Each were recognized for their work in advancing Maine’s tobacco control policy and bringing the state to the top of the nation in funding for tobacco control programs for SFY 2023.
ACS CAN, the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, presents the annual award to select lawmakers who demonstrate outstanding leadership in the area of cancer-related public policy advocacy.
“Reps. Cloutier, McCreight and Meyer embody what it means to be passionate advocates for reducing health disparities,” said Lisa Lacasse, president of ACS CAN. “Undoubtedly, it is thanks to their relentless pursuit and leadership that this lifesaving legislation passed in Maine to increase tobacco control funding, a significant step toward reducing cancer incidence and mortality rates. ACS CAN is grateful for these lawmakers’ role in reducing the cancer burden through their steadfast commitment to improving public health. ACS CAN looks forward to continued partnership on behalf of all who live, work, and visit Maine.”
In 2022, Maine passed legislation to increase tobacco control funding by $7.5 million/year, bringing annual funding up to $15.9 million beginning in SFY 2023. This makes Maine the only state in the nation to fund its tobacco control program at 100% of the US CDC recommendation.
“Thanks to their continued commitment and leadership on this issue, Rep. Cloutier, Rep. McCreight and Rep. Meyer put Maine on the top of the leaderboard when it comes to protecting kids and all Mainers from Big Tobacco’s continued targeting”, said Hilary Schneider, director of Government Relations for ACS CAN in Maine. “This was a long and hard fought win, and it would not have happened without their dedicated and passionate lobbying for the legislation to pass.”
“Tobacco use puts our children’s health and futures at risk. Smoking kills more people than any other preventable illness by causing chronic and serious diseases like cancer. I have been proud to work with the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network to protect Mainers from the terrible effects of tobacco products, and it is truly an honor to receive this recognition at the national level,” said Rep. Meyer.
Rep. Cloutier said “I am so very honored and grateful not only to receive this award, but to receive it alongside my dear colleagues, Representatives Michele Meyer and Jay McCreight. Fighting the tobacco industry is a monumental task and it will take hard work from all of us to ensure that our next generation is safe from an industry that preys on kids. I am so grateful to the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network and the network of volunteers they have built to help support these efforts.”
“Like so many of us, the harm from tobacco use is personal for me. I lost my dad and my only uncle to lung cancer, a terrible and preventable disease. As a legislator, I’ve committed to doing all I can to put a stop to the devastating effects of all forms of tobacco. I’m proud, along with my colleagues, to have ensured the funding we need to help prevent people, especially our youth, from starting, and to provide help for those trying desperately to quit. This is a terrible addiction that often affects our most vulnerable, and we can and must fight back,” said Rep. McCreight.
The award was presented on Sept. 13 as part of the annual ACS CAN Leadership Summit and Lobby Day. Nearly 600 cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones met in-person for the first time since 2019 with their elected officials to urge them to support policies that increase funding for cancer research and prevention programs and address barriers that prevent diverse populations from enrolling in clinical trials.
About ACS CAN at 20
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) makes cancer a top priority for policymakers at every level of government. ACS CAN empowers volunteers across the country to make their voices heard to influence evidence-based public policy change that saves lives. We believe everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer. Since 2001, as the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN has successfully advocated for billions of dollars in cancer research funding, expanded access to quality affordable health care, and made workplaces, including restaurants and bars, smoke-free. As we mark our 20th anniversary, we’re more determined than ever to stand together with our volunteers and save more lives from cancer. Join the fight by visiting www.fightcancer.org.