AUGUSTA — Efforts to curb smoking are on the Maine Legislature’s agenda this year, with bills taking aim at the habit and its health-related costs.

One bill would deny MaineCare benefits to smokers. Wilton Republican Sen. Thomas Saviello says he put the bill in after a health care worker and constituent said she was tired of seeing people with respiratory problems who smoke two packs a day while getting taxpayer-funded MaineCare benefits.

Republican Rep. Les Fossel of Alna wants to raise the minimum age to use tobacco from 18 to 21. Fossel says that would address a rising youth smoking rate in Maine.

Other bills would bar smoking in private clubs except for enclosed areas and raise the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack.

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