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The DOJ delivers the Comey memos to Congress. Also on our rundown: More evidence that rent prices are out of reach in many markets; Wisconsin counties brace for sulfide mining; and the Earth Day focus this weekend in North Dakota is on recycling.

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Maine in Top Five Preventing Youth Smoking

Big tobacco will spend more than $43 million this year for promotion, but a new report says Maine is in the top five states in terms of spending money on tobacco prevention. (Mike Clifford)
Big tobacco will spend more than $43 million this year for promotion, but a new report says Maine is in the top five states in terms of spending money on tobacco prevention. (Mike Clifford)
December 17, 2015

AUGUSTA, Maine – Almost 13 percent of high school-aged youth in Maine are smokers, but a new report says the state is ahead of the curve in preventing people, young and old, from picking up the habit.

John Schachter, director of state communications with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, says Maine gets about $180 million a year from a 1998 settlement of a major lawsuit that states brought against big tobacco, and from taxes on tobacco products.

He says the state is spending about $8 million a year on prevention efforts.

"Maine is actually among the better states,” he points out. “It's one of the few that's spending more than 50 percent of what the CDC recommends in tobacco prevention spending, so their ranking is up to fifth."

According to the report, "Broken Promises to Our Children," about 2,400 Mainers will die from tobacco related illnesses this year, and the negative impact on the state from tobacco products will top $800 million.

Schachter says most states use almost all their settlement money and cigarette tax revenue for purposes other than tobacco control, even though smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.

"The states this year will collect, on the whole, over $25 billion from the state tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but they're going to spend less than 2 percent of that – just $468 million – on tobacco prevention."

Shachter says Maine needs to keep pace with what the tobacco industry is spending to get young people to try its products. He says in Maine the industry spends more than $43 million per year.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - ME