March 12, 2011

Maine shouldn't diverttobacco settlement money

Morning Sentinel Staff

In the recent national and statewide discussions on fiscal responsibility in government, an analogy has been made to the need for each of us to balance our household budget. Surely in these difficult financial times as we each struggle to do just that, the analogy resonates with many of us.

However, to continue using that analogy, the proposed diversion for the tobacco settlement Fund for a Healthy Maine dollars away from drug courts and addiction treatment and prevention services makes as much sense as stopping regular oil changes on our vehicles to help our budget.

It is quite simply pennies wise and pounds foolish.

The drug court programs and the Maine Office of Substance Abuse have data to demonstrate that prevention and intervention are effective. Effective prevention and intervention means that public safety is improved, along with substantial reductions in the much greater expenses of incarceration, hospitalization and the other tragic costs when addiction is left unchecked.

Maine is No. 1 in the use of opiates in pill form in the United States. There is no escaping the reality that we are going to pay, one way or the other.

In our rush to stem the rising deficit, let's not make hasty policy decisions that will result in our paying for an even greater and more costly epidemic, not just with dollars, but with the lives of Maine's young adults for many years to come.

Peter Wohl

Hallowell

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