Cancer Advocates & Survivors Present Annual Blueprint to Combat Big Tobacco

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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) Cancer survivors, advocates and caregivers presented an annual blueprint for policy makers to combat tobacco use in Maine.

The 'State of the State of Tobacco Control' report looks at evidence-based solutions to prevent tobacco companies from targeting young smokers.

State lawmakers increased the age to buy cigarettes to 21 last year. That law will be rolled out over the next three years.

Tobacco remains the number one preventable cause of disease and premature death in Maine and the nation.

2400 Mainers die from tobacco-related diseases each year.

Nancy Dumont of Auburn spoke Tuesday about how tobacco killed four of her siblings.

"More education programs, more support groups, more of everything, 1-on-1 coaching- we're doing a lot but not enough. My whole family's dying from tobacco," said Dumont, volunteer for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

"We also need to raise the price of tobacco products. We are looking to increase the cigarette excise tax by $1.50, that's something we haven't done in over ten years. And we know that price is a really important component for youth to ever use tobacco products," said Hilary Schneider, Government Relations Officer, ACS CAN.

$2.5 million was cut from the state's tobacco control program in last year's biennial budget.

Advocates urge lawmakers to restore that funding, and to protect Maine's smoke-free workplaces and public places laws.