Maine Awarded Contract to Decrease Youth Smoking Rates

June 16, 2010

Contact: John Archard, Tobacco Enforcement Coordinator, (207) 592-8149 Kate Simmons (207) 626-8577

Augusta ? Attorney General Janet T. Mills and Health and Human Services Commissioner Brenda Harvey announced today that Maine is one of the first states to receive a competitive grant from the Food and Drug Administration to increase the enforcement of state and federal tobacco laws. Grant funds will help the state reverse the recent upward trend in teenage smoking rates. The rate of smoking amongst Maine high school students reached a low of 14% in 2007, but increased to 18% in 2009.

The National Center for Disease control reports that of the people who begin smoking any tobacco products before the age of 19, 85% of them become lifelong smokers. In Maine, $602 million is spent annually on health care expenditures to treat tobacco-related illnesses, while $216 million in state Medicaid total health expenditures are caused by tobacco use.

?I am delighted that the federal government has given Maine this grant to do even more to prevent teens from taking up the dangerous habit of smoking,? said Attorney General Janet T. Mills. ?If we can keep tobacco products out of the hands of teenagers, we can reduce the toll of tobacco-related illnesses on Maine people, families and communities.?

Under the contract administered by the Maine Office of the Attorney General, the Department of Health and Human Services will receive over $750,000 to increase enforcement of federal and state tobacco laws. According to both federal and state law, tobacco sales to anyone under 18 are prohibited and retailers must check IDs of anyone under 27.

Retailers and consumers can find guidance on the new federal law on the FDA Tobacco Center website at

?Integrating youth access prevention into our comprehensive tobacco control program contributed to the decline in youth smoking between 1997 and 2007,? said Health and Human Services Commissioner Brenda Harvey. ?This contract is timely with Maine seeing an uptick in youth smoking. We expect this stepped up effort combined with the work of the Healthy Maine Partnerships will help get us back on track to seeing a reduction in youth smoking in Maine.?