Health Index Priority: Decrease Tobacco Use

MaineHealth is expanding access to effective programs and therapies for helping tobacco users become tobacco-free, and partnering with community organizations to prevent youth from ever using tobacco.

Why does MaineHealth focus on decreasing tobacco use?

  • Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death.
  • 19% of adults in the MaineHealth service area are smokers.
  • The incidence of tobacco related cancers in Maine is significantly higher than the U.S. rate.
  • Smoking causes heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, 10 types of cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Data and measures

The Health Index initiative tracks and monitors a variety of data sources to measure progress being made to decrease tobacco use.

Adult Prevalence: Demographics


Although the prevalence of smoking is about 19% in the MaineHealth service area, this rate varies greatly across demographic groups. Smoking rates are highest among younger adults, adults living in households with lower annual incomes, and adults with a high school education or less. Smoking rates were also highest among those reporting their mental health was not good during 14-30 of the last 30 days.  

Adult Prevalence: How Maine Compares to the U.S.


Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death. On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers. While the U.S. rate decreased from 2012 to 2015, Maine's rate did not change significantly.

Taking action: Increasing referrals to the Maine Tobacco HelpLine

HealthIndex-Tobacco-ProviderReferralsWe support a variety of clinical, community and policy actions to help decrease tobacco use throughout the MaineHealth service area. One of our clinical strategies focuses on referring patients to the Maine Tobacco HelpLine, a free service providing evidence-based tobacco treatment for all Maine residents.

Studies have proven that healthcare providers advising patients to quit tobacco, and assisting them in accessing cessation treatment, increases abstinence rates. Studies have also established that quitline counseling improves quit rates.

Thus, MaineHealth member-owned organizations are working to increase the number of tobacco users who are electronically referred to the Maine Tobacco HelpLine for counseling and medications when eligible. In fiscal year 2016, providers referred 2,083 patients.

The MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence will partner with the MaineHealth Accountable Care Organization and Maine Behavioral Healthcare to increase referrals in fiscal years 2017 and 2018. The collaborations will include expanding use of the tobacco referral tools in electronic health records, educating providers about the Maine Tobacco HelpLine and expanding the use of provider feedback to maximize referral volume.

Interactive maps with county-level data

Looking for more data about adult and youth tobacco use? Visit the Health Index website to find data on prevalence, exposure, and quitting.

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