While Maine has made tremendous strides in reducing tobacco use, declines in smoking rates have slowed in recent years and the use of other tobacco products, like e-cigarettes, has increased, especially among youth. In fact, tobacco use remains the largest preventable cause of disease and death in our state.

This is one of the many reasons why, on April 2, I joined cancer survivors and advocates from across the state to urge our legislators to make the fight against cancer a top priority, starting with measures that will help tackle tobacco use in the state.

I asked Sen. Cathy Breen and Rep. Janice Cooper to support L.D. 1028, which proposes to increase the cigarette excise tax by $1.50 and increase the taxes on all other tobacco products (e.g., cigars, loose tobacco and e-cigarettes) to the same relative tax rate. Research indicates that a $1.50 increase in Maine’s cigarette excise tax will reduce youth smoking by 16.4 percent, motivate 8,700 adult smokers to quit and save $273 million in long-term health care costs related to declines in youth and adult smoking.

Smoking kills 2,400 Maine adults each year, but we can bring down this number if we stick with the tobacco prevention strategies that are proven to work. I urge anyone who cares about fighting cancer in Maine to join me in asking your lawmaker to join the fight against Big Tobacco, starting by supporting L.D. 1028.

Mikala Bousquet

volunteer, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

Yarmouth