STATEWIDE – “A golden opportunity to save millions of lives and billions of dollars in health care costs.”
That’s what the campaign for “Tobacco Free Kids” said the states are missing by failing to support tobacco prevention programs.
In a report called “Broken Promises to Our Children” the organization said Maine and other states will collect more than $29 billion this year from the tobacco settlement fund and tobacco taxes. But they will spend less than 2 percent of it to help people kick the habit.
Local doctors said it’s especially important to reach young people before it’s too late.
Dr. Anthony Rutkowski, EMMC said “Actually 90 percent of adult smokers smoked their first cigarette prior to 18 years old so it’s a really important population to focus on prevention. Also, youth in specific are more prone to nicotine dependence.”
The study says smoking rates fell to record lows in 2015. A little more than 15 percent of adults continue to smoke, while close to 11 percent of high school students are also lighting up.
The campaign for tobacco free kids is calling on the states to increase funding to recommended levels to help the U.S. reach it’s goal of eliminating smoking by 2035.