PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Teen smoking rates are on the rise in Maine, leading health advocacy groups to call for the state to use more of the money it receives from a federal tobacco settlement to fund tobacco prevention.
The most recent data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows 11.5 percent of high school students in the state smoked cigarettes in 2015, compared to the national average of 8 percent.
The Portland Press Herald reports Republican Gov. Paul LePage has diverted millions from prevention programs, even though the state received close to $43 million from a tobacco industry settlement in 2016.
The state spent $10 million on prevention in 2010, versus $5.3 million projected for 2018. Without a change in funding, advocates expect the rate of teen smoking to increase.