Northern Maine Medical Center recognized for tobacco-free achievements

FORT KENT – The annual Gold Star Standards of Excellence Hospital and Healthcare Organization Program Awardees have been announced for 2021 and Northern Maine Medical Center has once again earned recognition at the highest level of excellence.

The program of the MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence’s Breathe Easy Initiative recognized 32 hospitals, eight healthcare organizations, and one individual Gold Star Champions for efforts to address tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure. Celebrated organizations received a plaque for their achievements in advancing their campus smoke and tobacco-free policies as well as promoting tobacco-free lifestyles.

NMMC was recognized for meeting Platinum level through the 2021 Gold Star Standards of Excellence program for efforts to prohibit smoking and tobacco use on campus and addressing client tobacco use. This was the ninth year NMMC has participated in the initiative, showing a longstanding commitment to addressing tobacco use and exposure.

“Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Maine and the United States and we remain committed to the people of the St. John Valley to promote and support the health and well-being of our patients. As such, we have carefully crafted tobacco-free policies at our facilities, and we offer tobacco cessation counseling and resources to our employees and patients. We’re proud of this accomplishment and thank the Breathe Easy program coordinators for their relentless work to reduce tobacco use in Maine,” said NMMC CEO Peter Sirois.

All Maine hospitals and healthcare organizations were encouraged to apply for recognition. This year marks the twelfth annual hospital Gold Star Standards of Excellence Program and the second year healthcare organizations were invited to apply for recognition. Organizations are recognized at the Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze levels are based on best practice criteria such as a smoke and tobacco-free campus policy, annual screening for tobacco use, referral to tobacco treatment and supporting employee education related to tobacco treatment.

“We applaud the ongoing efforts of Maine hospitals and healthcare organizations to address tobacco use, secondhand smoke exposure and nicotine dependence by meeting the Gold Star Standards of Excellence,” says Kristen McAuley, tobacco prevention services director for the Center for Tobacco Independence. She continued, “Addressing tobacco use has continued importance during the current pandemic, as the U.S. CDC states that being a current or former cigarette smoker increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19.”

For more information about the Gold Star Standards of Excellence, please visit

To learn more about NMMC’s many services, to make a donation, or to learn about volunteer opportunities, visit and Like us on Facebook.


The Breathe Easy Initiative at the MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence is dedicated to providing Maine’s hospitals with the information and resources needed to make all organizations smoke and tobacco-free. Learn more at

The program is funded by Maine Prevention Services. Maine Prevention Services is an initiative through the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention working across the state to impact tobacco, substance use, and obesity.

Get the Rest of the Story

Thank you for reading your 4 free articles this month. To continue reading, and support local, rural journalism, please subscribe.