PORTLAND – Maine ranks No. 1 for the sixth year in a row in funding programs to protect children from tobacco, while Vermont dropped two places to 16th and New Hampshire improved from dead last to 41st, according to a report released Wednesday.
Maine spends $16.9 million a year on tobacco prevention programs, making it one of only three states, along with Delaware and Colorado, that fund such programs at or above the minimum amounts recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the report said.
Maine’s long-term commitment to tobacco prevention is paying off with significant improvements in the state’s physical and financial health, said William Corr, executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
But even Maine’s spending falls short compared to the $66 million spent on marketing by tobacco companies in the state.
“It is more critical that Maine continue its tobacco prevention program, and also increase its cigarette tax to discourage smoking, because the tobacco companies are spending huge amounts to market their deadly and addictive products, often in ways that appeal to kids,” Corr said.
The annual report on states’ funding of tobacco prevention programs, titled “A Broken Promise to Our Children,” was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and American Lung Association.
New Hampshire showed one of the bigger improvements, moving up 10 places from 51st in 2006.
The state spends $1.3 million a year on such programs, which is 12.3 percent of the minimum amount recommended by the CDC, the report said. Last year, New Hampshire ranked last, spending nothing on tobacco prevention.
New Hampshire took important steps this year by banning smoking in restaurants and bars and increasing the cigarette tax, Corr said.
“Unfortunately, the state is still falling short in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit,” Corr said.