AUGUSTA – Health advocates are criticizing Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s proposal to reduce a fund that supports anti-smoking programs.

LePage’s $6.3 billion budget proposal includes $20 million in cuts to the Fund for Healthy Maine.

The governor’s administration says it wants to use the money to pay for other things aimed at improving health outcomes for all Mainers, like higher Medicaid reimbursements for primary care providers.

But advocates say the loss of funding could decimate smoking cessation programs that have provided measurable benefits.

Former Maine Center for Disease Control Director Dr. Dora Anne Mills told the Maine Public Broadcasting Network that states that have cut anti-smoking programs have seen their smoking rates go back up.

LePage also proposes to eliminate 40 positions at Maine CDC, all of which are vacant.