Maine has made tremendous strides in reducing tobacco use and smoking rates have slowed in recent years, but the use of other tobacco products, like e-cigarettes, has increased. The Surgeon General as declared e-cigarette use an epidemic among our youth and has encouraged parents, teachers and lawmakers to take action. It is reported that youth vaping of nicotine nearly doubled in just one year among 12th-graders (from 11 percent to 20.9 percent). This next generation is becoming addicted to nicotine for life, and they are seeing the health effects.

This is one of the reasons why two years ago I joined cancer survivors and advocates from across the state to urge our legislators to make the fight against cancer a top priority, starting with measures that will help tackle smoking product use in the state. In fact, the use of tobacco remains the largest preventable cause of disease and death in the state.

I asked Sen. Scott Cyrway, R-Benton, to support L.D. 1028, which would increase funding for tobacco cessation and prevention programs. This bill also proposes to increase the cigarette excise tax by $1.50 and the taxes on all other smoking products (cigars, loose tobacco and e-cigarettes) to the same relative tax rate. An increase in Maine’s cigarette excise tax will reduce youth smoking by 16.4 percent and discourage non-smokers from using such products, including e-cigarettes. An increase may motivate 8,700 adult smokers to quit and save $273 million in long-term health costs related to declines in youth and adult smoking.

Smoking kills 2,400 Maine adults each year, but we can bring down this number if we stick with the tobacco prevention strategies that are proven to work. I urge anyone who cares about fighting cancer in Maine to join me in asking your lawmaker to join the fight against Big Tobacco, starting by supporting L.D. 1028.

 

Mary Lou Warn 
volunteer

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network 
Winslow

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