UNE receives $1.8 million contract to evaluate Maine CDC Tobacco and Substance Use Prevention and Control Program

Stock image of a person raising their hand "no" to an offer for a cigarette
The contract includes federal grant funding awarded through the U.S. CDC and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The University of New England Center for Excellence in Public Health (CEPH) has been conditionally awarded a competitive contract of $1.8 million over five years (2023-2027) to evaluate the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (Maine CDC) Tobacco and Substance Use Prevention and Control Program (TSUPCP) and Maine Prevention Network (MNP).

The contract includes federal grant funding awarded through the U.S. CDC and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to fund a team of UNE researchers as they devise a plan to evaluate initiatives of the TSUPCP by:

  1. Collecting and analyzing data to provide insight on whether the program is effective, and
  2. Helping the Maine CDC disseminate findings and key lessons learned to inform future efforts in Maine and nationally

The Maine CDC has received significant financial support from the federal government to address the public health issues of tobacco and substance use and misuse. The TSUPCP oversees the state’s prevention services, including the newly establish statewide Maine Prevention Network, a collaboration between multiple programs of the Maine CDC and district-level community partners to implement evidence-based prevention programming with the purpose to:

  1. Prevent and reduce substance use, misuse, and related problems
  2. Prevent youth and young adults from starting tobacco use, encourage tobacco users to quit, eliminate non-smokers’ exposure to second-hand smoke, and identify and eliminate disparities related to tobacco use among population groups
  3. Increase the number of people in Maine who are actively working to implement national recommendations included in the dietary and physical activity guidelines for Americans
  4. Increase resiliency and reduce risk of commercial tobacco use, substance use, and unmet mental health needs among youth
  5. Measurably improve health outcomes associated with substance use, suicide, tobacco use, and tobacco exposure

Ruth Dufresne, M.S., senior research associate, will serve as principal investigator and lead evaluator on the project.

Other CEPH staff comprising the TSUPCP evaluation team include Rebecca Ireland, M.P.H., PS-C, senior program coordinator; Ashley Duffee, M.A., research associate; Jessica Eller, research assistant; Lu’Ann Thibeau, B.S., manager of finance and administration; and Mary DeSilva, Sc.D., M.S., associate research professor of public health.

The team has in-depth knowledge of public health approaches, extensive experience analyzing health disparities, and brings a strong record of expertise and success with several decades of combined experience working specifically in tobacco and substance use prevention and control program evaluation.

The group hopes to find to find that districts within the MPN have been successful in implementing their programs targeted at reducing substance and tobacco use, as well as promoting other initiatives like healthy eating and active living, Ireland said.

“The big picture is that we’re trying to help the state and federal agencies that fund this work, as well as our community partners, to make data-driven decisions around what the needs are for prevention services and to use what is learned about the impact of prevention efforts in Maine to identify opportunities for enhanced work in the future,” she remarked. “Through using a mix of evidence-based initiatives and strategies adapted to the communities’ needs and evaluating their impact, we will be able to contribute to the field of knowledge about what can be done in Maine and nationally going forward to help prevent the public health impacts of tobacco and substance use and misuse.”

Ruth Dufresne, M.S.

Rebecca Ireland, M.P.H., PS-C