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Common Questions from Parents

Common Questions from Smokers

Common Questions about Tobacco

Common Questions about The Partnership For A Tobacco-Free Maine

Common Questions about Prevention

Other Frequently Asked Questions


Common Questions from Parents


Common Questions from Smokers


Common Questions about Tobacco


Common Questions about The Partnership For A Tobacco-Free Maine


Common Questions about Prevention


Other Frequently Asked Questions

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Common Questions from Parents


Can my smoking harm my child's health?

If you smoke around your kids, you are putting them at risk. Many parents who smoke don't fully understand how harmful secondhand smoke is for their kids, and they think they are protecting them when they are really not. For instance, you may think it's acceptable if you open windows, turn on a fan, or leave the room. But buying into the myths about secondhand smoke won't protect your kids.

The fact is, short of quitting, smoking outside is the only way to protect kids from secondhand smoke. That's because there is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure. Secondhand smoke causes premature death and disease in children and nonsmoking adults, and kids are particularly vulnerable to its effects. Smoke can aggravate asthma in children who have the disease, and greatly increase the risk for bronchitis and pneumonia among young children. The chances of kids having more colds, coughs, and lung infections also increase. And, if you smoke, it increases the chances that your kids will smoke. Find out more about Secondhand Smoke Dangers.


Is my child a target of Big Tobacco?

Almost half of all Maine high school students report experimenting with smoking. Every day, another 1,500 kids become daily smokers in our country, and one-third of them will die prematurely as a result of getting hooked. Some will do so as a direct result of effective tobacco industry marketing.

Tobacco companies will spend almost $70 million promoting cigarettes in Maine this year. The industry is working every day to glamorize their deadly product to appeal to kids and replace customers that die as a result of using their product. Big Tobacco is talking to our kids in convenience stores, in magazines, online, and through special promotions designed to lure them into thinking that smoking is cool or a way to express their independence. In fact, numerous internal tobacco industry documents have revealed that kids as young as 13 are a key market for the tobacco industry.

Explore the facts about how the tobacco industry targets kids.


How can I prevent my child from smoking?

As a parent or caregiver, you are the biggest influence in your child's life. That's true despite peer pressure and all the music, TV, and movies your child takes in. In fact, research suggests that starting and continuing the conversation about tobacco is the best way to protect your child from whatever the tobacco industry may try.

Parents who begin early and keep renewing the conversation with their kids about the dangers of tobacco and the ads their kids see every day are more likely to arm their kids against the dangers of tobacco later. Parents who get involved in the community, in their schools, and in local organizations also help meet their goals of having a tobacco-free child. They learn from other parents, from health professionals, and even from their own kids. And if they have a kid who already uses tobacco, they can help him or her stop.

Find more tips for parents or visit our Parents page to find parenting skills, facts about tobacco use, and ways to take a stand in your community.


How do I know if my child is smoking?

As a parent, you may not think your child is smoking - maybe you think he or she is too young or too smart, plays sports, has no money to buy cigarettes, complains when you or others smoke, or has seen firsthand the effects of smoking when a family member got emphysema or died of lung cancer. But every day, youth are getting hooked on tobacco and becoming addicted.

Visit our Parents page for more information about how to raise a smoke-free kid and how to help them quit if they've already started.


My child is smoking - how do I help him/her stop?

If your teenager is smoking or chewing tobacco, it will be up to him or her to quit. But your intervention is critical. Supporting your child in quitting is one of the best parenting activities you could ever do. Call the Maine Tobacco HelpLine for information on helping teens quit at 1-800-207-1230 or visit our Quit Tobacco page for more information about how to quit and help others to quit.


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Common Questions from Smokers


Where can I smoke at work?

All employers are obligated to establish a written policy concerning smoking and nonsmoking by employees. That policy must prohibit smoking except in Designated Smoking Areas in order to protect the employer and employees from the detrimental effects of environmental tobacco smoke.

While an employer's written policy may prohibit smoking throughout the entire business facility, Maine law dictates where smoking is prohibited and allowed for businesses that do not ban smoking entirely.

Maine law allows smoking in the following places:

Read the Maine Law regarding smoking in the workplace.


I'm pregnant. Will smoking harm my unborn baby?

Yes. Smokers take in poisons such as nicotine and carbon monoxide (the same gas that comes out of a car’s exhaust pipe). These poisons get into the placenta, which is the tissue that connects the mother and the baby before it is born. These poisons keep the unborn baby from getting the food and oxygen needed to grow.

During pregnancy, many of the compounds in secondhand smoke change the way a baby's brain develops. Secondhand smoke exposure is a known cause of sudden infant death syndrome, the sudden, unexplained death of an infant before age one. Babies who are around secondhand smoke after they are born are also more likely to die of SIDS than children who are not around secondhand smoke. Babies whose mothers are around secondhand smoke are more likely to have lower birth weights as well. Babies can have more health problems and more infections, their lungs are more likely to not develop normally, and they are more likely to have weaker lungs - a problem that can get worse as they get older.

There can be long-term effects as well. Smoking during pregnancy may mean that, after the child is born, it will have more colds and other lung problems. These children may also be slower learners in school. And they may be shorter and smaller than children of nonsmokers. And, of course, they are more likely to smoke when they get older because they see their parents smoking.

Find more information about Smoking and Pregnancy.


How does smoking affect my physical performance?

In addition to other harmful effects and health risks, tobacco can have a damaging affect on athletic performance. Tobacco diminishes fitness levels so athletes cannot achieve goals or be competitive. A smoker's heart beats three times faster than a nonsmoker’s, and young smokers produce phlegm twice as often as those who don't smoke. Tobacco diminishes lung growth and lung function, and users suffer from shortness of breath almost three times as often as a nonsmoker. And, when it comes to injuries, tobacco use limits recovery.

If you use smokeless tobacco, it can harm athletic performance just like cigarettes. Smokeless tobacco is highly addictive, and it contains at least 28 known cancer-causing chemicals that lead to cancers of the mouth and throat. It also causes gum recession, tooth decay, bad breath, and stained teeth.


How can I prevent a relapse after I quit smoking?

Tobacco cessation is not a one-time treatment. It's not like taking an antibiotic for an infection – tobacco addiction is a chronic, lifelong condition that requires lifelong maintenance. Most relapses occur within the first three months after quitting, but strong desires to smoke can happen sometimes months or even years after you’ve quit. However, relapse never occurs in a vacuum – there is always a triggering event or circumstance that creates craving, poor judgment, and ultimately tobacco use.

Know common relapse triggers, such as stress, depression, being around other smokers or drinking alcohol, and use the same methods to stay quit as you did to help you through withdrawal. Think ahead to those times when you may be tempted to smoke, and plan on how you will use alternatives and activities to cope with these situations. For instance, remember why you quit, and use your withdrawal methods to "redirect" your urge to smoke.

Also, if you feel you may relapse, it's a good time to call on support. Many former smokers say a support network of family and friends was very important during their quit attempt. Other people who may offer support and encouragement are coworkers, your family doctor, and members of support groups for quitters. You can check with your employer, health insurance company, or local hospital to find support groups, or call the Maine Tobacco HelpLine.

Most importantly, if you do relapse, don't be discouraged. Remember, most people try several times before they finally quit. Use your relapse as a learning experience that can help you later. Every attempt to quit moves you closer to success. Learn more about how to stay tobacco free at our Quit Tobacco page.


How does smoking affect my current health issues?

If you have been diagnosed with an ongoing, incurable disease, you are especially vulnerable to the health effects of tobacco, and quitting is even more urgent. Smokers with chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease, COPD, and asthma can experience increased hospitalization time, complications, and increased risk of death. Smoking can put you at drastically higher risk for symptoms and, in some cases, decrease the effectiveness of your medications. Find out more about smoking and chronic disease.


I've smoked for years. Why should I quit now when the damage is done?

It's never too late to quit smoking. Even if you have smoked all your life, there are compelling reasons for you to quit now. The rewards of quitting will begin immediately, and the longer you stay smoke free, the more the benefits multiply. Quitting tobacco will improve your health, your finances, your self-esteem and your everyday life - immediately and over the long term – in ways you may never have imagined, and that's true whether you are 20, 40, or 80.

Find out why you should quit.


If I quit, will I suffer withdrawal symptoms?

Managing withdrawal is part of the quitting process. If you have been a regular smoker and suddenly stop using tobacco, you'll have withdrawal symptoms due to the lack of nicotine. These symptoms can put you at risk of starting smoking again in order to boost blood levels of nicotine back to a level where there are no symptoms. Symptoms usually start within a few hours of the last cigarette and peak about two to three days later. They can last for a few days to up to several weeks.

Withdrawal is both physical and mental. Physically, the body reacts to the absence of nicotine. Mentally, a smoker is faced with giving up a habit, which calls for a major change in behavior. Both must be addressed in order for the quitting process to work.

Most smokers find that the bigger challenge is the mental part of quitting. If you have been smoking for any length of time, smoking has become linked with nearly everything you do – waking up in the morning, eating, reading, watching TV, or drinking coffee. It will take time to un-link smoking from these activities. That's why, even if you are using a nicotine replacement, you may still have strong urges to smoke.

As you go through the first few days without smoking, write down your rationalizations – those mistaken beliefs that seem to make sense at the time but are not based on facts, such as it's OK to have just one, or smoking isn't that bad. Recognize them for what they are: messages that can trap you into going back to smoking. To overcome urges and cravings, it can help to remember your list of reasons why you quit, and remember that cravings don't last. Read more about how to cope with withdrawal symptoms.


Should I use medication to quit?

The fewest withdrawal symptoms and greatest success comes with using some type of medical treatment to gradually reduce the use of nicotine, rather than quitting all at once, or going “cold turkey.” Nicotine replacement therapy is the primary medication therapy currently used to treat nicotine addiction. Nicotine replacement products supply enough nicotine to prevent withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse while behavioral treatment is underway. These products, which include nicotine gum, nicotine patches, nicotine lozenges, nicotine inhalers and nicotine nasal sprays, can double the chances that you will successfully quit.

If you have questions about these tobacco treatments, contact your healthcare provider or a Tobacco Treatment Specialist, or call the Maine Tobacco HelpLine.


I want to quit, but I can't afford treatment. What can I do?

Call the Maine Tobacco HelpLine at 1-800-207-1230. We'll discuss options for nicotine replacement therapy and let you know if you qualify for the Medication Voucher Program.


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Common Questions about Tobacco


What is nicotine?

Nicotine is the primary component of tobacco, and it is the primary reason that tobacco is addictive. Through the use of cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco, nicotine is one of the most heavily used addictive drugs in the United States. In 1988, the Surgeon General concluded that cigarettes and other forms of tobacco, such as cigars, pipe tobacco and chewing tobacco, are addictive and that nicotine is the drug in tobacco that causes addiction. A drop of pure nicotine would kill a person - in fact, nicotine can be used as a pesticide on crops.

Nicotine provides an almost immediate “kick” because it causes a discharge of epinephrine from the adrenal cortex. This stimulates the central nervous system and endocrine glands, which causes a sudden release of glucose. Stimulation is then followed by depression and fatigue, leading the user to seek more nicotine.

According to recent research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nicotine addiction caused by smoking produces long-lasting chemical changes in the brain similar to changes that take place when someone uses drugs like heroine or cocaine – more evidence of the addictive, destructive nature of nicotine.

Get information about nicotine and how smoking affects health.


What is tar?

In addition to nicotine, cigarette smoke is primarily composed of a dozen gases (mainly carbon monoxide) and tar. The tar in a cigarette, which varies from about 15 mg for a regular cigarette to 7 mg in a low-tar cigarette, exposes the user to an increased risk of lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchial disorders.

The carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke increases the chance of cardiovascular diseases. The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that secondhand smoke causes lung cancer in adults and greatly increases the risk of respiratory illnesses in children and sudden infant death.

Get information about tar and how smoking affects health.


Is smoking addictive?

Cigarettes contain nicotine, and addiction to nicotine is a chronic, relapsing disorder. It is responsible for withdrawal symptoms - the physical changes that occur when smokers stop using tobacco, even for a short time. Studies have found that, when chronic smokers were deprived of cigarettes for 24 hours, they had increased anger, hostility, aggression, and loss of social cooperation. Those suffering from withdrawal also take longer to regain emotional equilibrium following stress. During periods of abstinence and/or craving, smokers have shown impairment across a wide range of psychomotor and cognitive functions, such as language comprehension.

To compound the addictive effects of nicotine, smoking is also addictive because it is linked to behavior – waking up in the morning, eating, reading, watching TV, and drinking coffee – and the mental aspects of addiction can be even more difficult to overcome when a smoker quits, creating strong urges to smoke even for someone using a nicotine replacement.

Tobacco addiction is a chronic, lifelong condition that requires lifelong maintenance. Find out more about nicotine addiction from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


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Common Questions about PTM


What is the "Settlement Agreement"?

In November 1998, Maine, along with 45 other states across the country, sued the tobacco industry for the recovery of the state's Medicaid healthcare costs attributed to tobacco use. As a result of the Master Settlement Agreement, the industry committed to paying the states approximately $206 billion for the first 25 years of the agreement. Payments must be made as long as the settling companies sell cigarettes in the United States. Of that total, it is estimated that Maine will receive approximately $50 million per year. Click here to read the document.


What is The Partnership For A Tobacco-Free Maine?

The Partnership For A Tobacco-Free Maine (PTM) is the Maine State Tobacco Prevention and Control Program. The PTM was originally developed as a result of the tobacco excise tax legislation passed in 1997. Through the Fund for a Healthy Maine, the 119th Maine State Legislature dedicated all of the state tobacco settlement funds to health programs. A significant portion of those funds has been allocated specifically to the PTM to develop and implement statewide tobacco prevention, control, and treatment programs. The PTM also receives funding from a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is designed to reflect the CDC’s Best Practice Guidelines for Statewide Tobacco Prevention and Control Programs.

The mission of the PTM is to reduce death and disability due to tobacco use among Maine citizens by creating an environment that is supportive of a tobacco-free life.


How is PTM fulfilling its mission of tobacco prevention?

PTM and all our partners are continuing our vigilance in saving Maine lives from the grips of tobacco. Policies and programs making a difference throughout the state include tobacco treatment programs, counter-marketing and public awareness, community programs, enforcement programs, school programs, and smoke-free policies. Find out more about the work of PTM.


How do I contact PTM?

Partnership For A Tobacco-Free Maine
Maine Department of Health and Human Services
Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Key Bank Plaza 4th Floor
11 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04330-0011
Phone: 207-287-4627
Fax: 207-287-4636

Email:  [email protected]

The Maine Tobacco HelpLine: 1-800-207-1230


What organizations in Maine focus on prevention?

Maine has many organizations working to fulfill the mission of tobacco-use prevention and eliminating tobacco-related disease. Find Maine organizations.


What is social marketing/counter marketing?

Social marketing – marketing that encourages behavioral change for the social good – is an important part of countering pro-tobacco messages and communicating the dangers of tobacco use and secondhand smoke. It is made effective through media publicity, grassroots marketing, and internet marketing. Counter marketing is the use of commercial marketing tactics to combat pro-tobacco influences, increase pro-health messages, and reduce the prevalence of tobacco use in the state and its communities. Counter marketing also plays a significant role in increasing smoking cessation, reducing smokeless tobacco use, decreasing the likelihood that people will begin smoking cigarettes, and reducing nonsmokers' exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke.

Through TV messaging, internet campaigns, parent- and youth-focused campaigns, viral marketing in schools and communities, and development of partnerships with many of Maine's premier health organizations, nonprofits and institutions, PTM's counter marketing strategies are working to increase awareness of the harmful effects of tobacco use, save lives, reduce illness, and lessen the economic burdens of tobacco use. Find out more about PTM's counter marketing efforts.


How do I attend PTM-sponsored training?

The Partnership For A Tobacco-Free Maine and its related public health and nonprofit partners frequently offer training, events, and conferences focused on the many different areas of tobacco control and prevention. Find out about training and events.


What are Healthy Maine Partnerships?

Healthy Maine Partnerships (HMPs) reach out to individuals, groups, agencies, and organizations to expand the number of people involved in promoting healthier living. Thirty-one HMPs in Maine have successfully formed coalitions dedicated to reducing tobacco use and exposure and promoting physical activity and healthy eating, and school systems and community coalitions are working together as equal partners to achieve results.

Individual HMPs help carry out the work of the Partnership by spearheading collaborative efforts to pioneer new approaches to improve nutrition, promote physical activity, and reduce tobacco use and exposure. HMPs have secured additional funding for local efforts, increased smoke-free environments around the state, and increased the opportunities for youth and adults to exercise, eat healthy foods, and quit smoking.

Find your local HMP.


How do I order materials?

Prevention kits, brochures, campaign supplements and other materials are available for community organizations and schools. Order Materials here.

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Common Questions about Prevention


Why should I be worried about prevention? Aren't smoking rates going down?

Smoking rates have decreased due to Maine's efforts at prevention, and as result, some people think that kids are no longer at risk. That is not the case. Each new generation is vulnerable to the continuous barrage of marketing tactics by Big Tobacco.

The money spent by the tobacco industry dwarfs most local prevention budgets. In 2003, cigarette companies spent $15.2 billion annually, or more than $41 million per day, on advertising and promotion in the United States. Cigarette advertising and promotional expenditures have more than doubled since 1998. In Maine, the portion of the total spent promoting tobacco is almost $70 million annually, and dollars devoted to websites, sponsorships, and direct mail have spiked drastically.

It is critical that messages of prevention be continuous and consistent, and renewed with every new generation. Get more information about Tobacco Industry Marketing Tactics.


How does Maine rate when it comes to tobacco use and prevention?

Maine's efforts at funding and partnering for prevention are working. Maine has received national recognition from the American Lung Association for its impressive outcomes in prevention in schools, workplaces, communities, and retail stores. Since 1997, when PTM began, to 2005, rates for adults who smoke decreased from 30% to 21%, and the rate among high school students plunged nearly 60%.

However, thanks to the highly funded efforts of the tobacco industry, Maine also faces difficult challenges when it comes to smoking. Smoking kills more people from the state than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined. Messages of prevention are vitally important across the state, particularly with youth, young adults, those with chronic disease, those with economic hardships, and other segments of the population that are unfairly targeted by the tobacco industry and vulnerable to the health effects of tobacco use.

Get more Maine facts and statistics.


How can I get involved in prevention?

There are many ways to be part of the remarkable changes in tobacco prevention and control. Parents can get involved in their schools and communities, and work with other parents and organizations to meet the goals they've set for making their kids and communities tobacco free. Youth can get involved in tobacco prevention and help further efforts of teachers and community leaders, and have a profound influence on their peers and the adults around them. Retail store owners can set voluntary policies that reduce tobacco advertising, and employers can create workplace policies that create smoke-free environments, benefit their employees' health, and benefit their business.


Get involved in the Schools

Get involved in your Community

Get involved in Athletics and Recreation Programs

Get involved in Your Child's Life

Get involved in Creating Policy Change

Get involved in Youth Advocacy

Get involved in Youth Initiatives


How do I file a tobacco violation?

PTM works with local law enforcement to enforce Maine smoking laws in public or in the workplace. Community members can help the fight against tobacco by reporting compliance violations that occur in the workplace and in public places. To file a complaint use the violation form.


What is the Maine Tobacco HelpLine?

The Maine Tobacco HelpLine was established to provide over-the-phone clinical treatment for Maine tobacco users by offering toll-free telephone counseling to anyone in Maine who wants to quit using tobacco or is thinking about quitting. Maine Tobacco HelpLine specialists help those who call set a quit date and develop an individual quit plan tailored to their specific needs. The HelpLine also provides support throughout the quitting process through scheduled calls that check in on the quitter's progress. Callers can find out about nicotine replacement medications, quit support groups, and whether they qualify for the Medication Program.

The HelpLine is free, confidential, and it really works - those who have used the HelpLine achieved a 21% long-term quit rate - an outcome that is three times higher than results seen with smokers who quit on their own.

Call the Maine Tobacco HelpLine at 1-800-207-1230.


Do I need a workplace policy?

The majority of employers do not offer health promotion and disease prevention programs to support employee health, despite the fact that 24% of Maine adults smoke, 59% are overweight or obese, and 26% do not participate in any leisure time physical activity. There are many low-cost strategies for creating policies that promote health and wellness in the workplace, and they don't have to be long and complicated.

Implementing a tough smoking cessation policy at your workplace contributes to the health of your employees, creates a safer, more productive workplace, and means you are taking the lead in creating a community that is smoke free. Our sample policies and templates make implementing a policy in your workplace easy.

Find out how to implement a smoke-free policy.


How can I make my public park or recreational area smoke-free?

Tobacco-free recreation is the first step in changing the community norm of acceptability of smoking in recreational areas and is part of a comprehensive approach to tobacco-use prevention and control. Community recreation programs help protect our children from the health risks associated with tobacco use and addiction. Policies that send strong, clear, and consistent anti-tobacco messages can play an important role in preventing youth from starting to use tobacco products.

With the Tobacco-Free Community Recreation Manual, local health advocates, municipal officials, recreation department board members, and recreation staff can take advantage of the tools to develop comprehensive anti-tobacco policies for local recreation programs. The manual provides information about why sending a clear message to youth and breaking the connection between tobacco and recreation is important for prevention, and helps communities create tobacco-free policies. It also supplies presentation materials, resources and action steps toward achieving these goals.

Find more information about Tobacco-Free Community Recreation.


As a healthcare provider or social worker, how do I talk to my patients about tobacco?

Maine's providers represent a crucial step in the cycle of prevention and treatment. Physicians, healthcare workers, social service workers, and representatives of nonprofit service organizations who interact with patients and clients are able to provide guidance, resources, and treatment options that could help them end their dependence on tobacco.

Find information, resources, and intervention and assessment tools for Providers.


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Other Frequently Asked Questions


Where can I find data and reports?

PTM provides a wealth of resources for those who work in the area of tobacco prevention. Providers can access research and reports that are useful for working with specific issues and populations on cessation, tobacco treatment, and health matters. Go to Links for Providers. Community members and professionals can find current industry news, research, regulatory changes, facts, and statistics surrounding tobacco control and prevention to help them in supporting the mission of prevention. Explore Maine Facts.


How do I help someone I care about quit?

You can't make people quit. But you can help. Referring them to the Maine Tobacco HelpLine is a great first step. As a friend or family member, you can also call the HelpLine yourself to get information and tips on how to help them quit. There are other ways to help, too:


I quit! How can I help others?

Tell us about it. If you are a nonsmoker who has quit and is now living tobacco free, it's important that people know about the hurdles and triumphs of your quitting experience. If you have successfully quit tobacco use, we want to hear from you. Send us your success story.

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