State Rep. Jay McCreight, D-Harpswell, has been named a 2022 recipient of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s National Distinguished Advocacy Award. The award recognizes lawmakers who have led efforts to fight against cancer and to support patients, survivors and their families.

The organization highlighted McCreight’s work to advance tobacco use prevention policies in Maine, which included leading the effort this year to increase the funding allocation for the tobacco prevention and control program to $15.9 million, the full amount recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Like so many of us, the harm from tobacco use is personal for me. I lost my dad and my only uncle to lung cancer, a terrible and preventable disease,” said McCreight. “As a legislator, I’ve committed to doing all I can to put a stop to the devastating effects of all forms of tobacco.

“I’m proud, along with my colleagues, to have ensured the funding we need to help prevent people, especially our youth, from starting, and to provide help for those trying desperately to quit. This is a terrible addiction that often affects our most vulnerable, and we can and must fight back.”

The award is the Cancer Action Network’s highest national advocacy honor. The Cancer Action Network is the American Cancer Society’s advocacy arm, working to make cancer response and prevention a top priority of public officials.

“Rep. McCreight embodies what it means to be a passionate advocate for reducing health disparities,” said Lisa Lacasse, president of the Cancer Action Network. “Undoubtedly, it is thanks to her relentless pursuit and leadership that this lifesaving legislation passed in Maine to increase tobacco control funding, a significant step toward reducing cancer incidence and mortality rates.”

“Thanks to her continued commitment and leadership on this issue, Rep. McCreight put Maine on the top of the leaderboard when it comes to protecting kids and all Mainers from big tobacco’s continued targeting,” said Hilary Schneider, director of government relations for the Cancer Action Network in Maine. “This was a long and hard-fought win, and it would not have happened without her dedicated and passionate lobbying for the legislation to pass.”

McCreight, House chair of the Legislature’s Marine Resources Committee and a member of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, is serving her fourth term in the House. She represents Harpswell, West Bath and northeastern Brunswick.