The Health Index initiative tracks and monitors a variety of data sources to measure progress being made to decrease tobacco use. In 2016, MaineHealth leaders set bold, aggressive targets for two of these measures as a way to challenge MaineHealth organizations to continue achieving positive steps toward the MaineHealth vision.
Short-term measure and target:
- Between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018, 4,000 adults with tobacco dependence will be proactively referred to the Maine Tobacco HelpLine by providers in MaineHealth member-owned practices.
Long-term measure and target:
- By 2020, 14% or less of adults in the MaineHealth service area will smoke cigarettes daily or some days.
MaineHealth providers have significantly increased referrals to the Maine Tobacco HelpLine. The total number of tobacco users referred in 2017 was 30 percent higher than in 2015 and 45 percent higher than in 2016. The total number of tobacco users referred in 2017 was 30 percent higher than in 2015 and 45 percent higher than in 2016.
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death. On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers. While the smoking rates for the MaineHealth service area and for the entire state did not change substantially from 2012 to 2016, the state is falling behind the rest of the county. In 2012, there were 12 states with smoking rates significantly higher than Maine's. In 2016, only four states had higher rates. Meanwhile, the number of states with significantly lower smoking rates than Maine increased from 16 to 24 in 2016.
Overall, 19.5% of adults in Maine smoke every day or some days. However, this rate varies from a high of 25.4% in Aroostook county to a low of 13.5% in Cumberland.
There is considerable variation in smoking rates, especially by income and education.