AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Anyone who smokes cigarettes would be looking to pay a $1.50 more in taxes per pack of cigarettes here in Maine if the American Lung Assocation has its way. The ALA released it's annual Tobacco Report Card Wednesday at the Welcome Center at the state house in Augusta.
"Maine did not score that well," said Ed Miller, senior vice president for public policy for the American Lung Association of the Northeast.
The report grades states in four categories: tobacco prevention and control spending, smoke free air, cigarette tax, and cessation. Maine's grades in those categories were D,A,C, and D, respectively.
To get the state on better footing, the American Lung Association will ask Lawmakers this session to increase the cigarette tax by $1.50 and to have the tax expanded to include other products like cigars and loose tobacco.
"That's important because keeping the price of tobacco high is the most effective strategy for reducing youth smoking and for motivating smokers to quit and so that's an extremely important grade," Miller explained citing statistics he says show that when you increase the price of a pack of cigarettes by 10%, smoking rates decline by about 7%.
The American Lung Association would also like the legislature to restore coverage for smoking cessation medication for all people in the Mainecare Program. Currently those medications are only covered for pregnant women.
The ALA was also critical of the state legislature for cuttting funding for the tobacco prevention and cessation program by $1.5 Million dollars in 2012.