I’d like everyone to know about Healthy Communities of the Capital Area and the 27 Healthy Maine Partnerships statewide. Healthy Communities’ recent annual meeting showed once again that their efforts help real people by preventing secondhand smoke (and the state budget by reducing diseases), helping us eat healthier on a budget, and reducing substance use among our youth. These are efforts that all Healthy Maine Partnerships throughout the state.

Yet, there are threats to continuing this vital work. As I write this, the state budget is still in negotiation, and funding for the 27 local Healthy Maine Partnerships could still be eliminated. This money is not from taxpayers, but from tobacco company profits as a result of a lawsuit.

Maine’s 119th Legislature dedicated the funds to smoking prevention efforts that have shown to be effective. The community and school grants pay for core work of Healthy Maine Partnerships and school-based health centers. This line was cut by one-third statewide in 2012, resulting in a drastic reduction in local prevention with less free workplace wellness support for small businesses and reduced variety of tobacco prevention efforts.

Healthy Maine Partnerships provide two key roles:

• They work with local community members to implement the work in ways that best meet the conditions of their communities. Healthy Maine Partnerships funding is the only source dedicated to reducing tobacco use and exposure locally.

• Each is a part of Maine’s public health structure that guarantees the same results and implements programs equally across the state; respond to emergencies such as H1N1 flu; and responds to local concerns and people.

Tobacco profits paying for our public health — seems like a good use of those funds to me.

Jim Wood chairman

Board of Directors

Healthy Communities of the Capital Area