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January 25, 2019

Veteran medical lobbyist named to lead Maine’s opioid response efforts

Courtesy / Office of Gov. Janet Mills
Courtesy / Office of Gov. Janet Mills
Gordon Smith, executive vice president of Maine Medical Association, has been appointed by Gov. Janet Mills as the state's first director of opioid response.

Gov. Janet Mills on Thursday announced the appointment of Gordon Smith, Maine Medical Association's executive vice president, as the state's first director of opioid response.

The position, which makes good on another campaign promise, will be housed within the new Office of Innovation and the Future. Smith's role will be to marshal all state resources to combat an epidemic that has led to at least 1,630 drug overdose deaths in the past five years.

"History will note that we have lost an entire generation of people to the opioid epidemic and that we have simply failed to address this preventable disease. It is time to mobilize state government to stem the tide of this deadly epidemic," Mills said in a statement.

"Gordon Smith is an experienced, well-respected, and highly qualified public health expert. I have complete confidence in his ability to work across departments and knock down the silos that prevent us from working to combat this crisis and protect Maine families," Mills added.

Next steps

Mills said she will issue an executive order within the next two weeks directing state agencies to begin taking meaningful steps towards combating the epidemic.

Smith and Mills said their first action will be to establish the Prevention and Recovery Cabinet, which will include commissioners from various departments, as well as the Maine attorney general.

"While the opioid epidemic will not be eradicated by any single approach, with a spirited effort and better coordination among Maine's state government agencies, we can save lives and improve the health of our state," Smith said in Thursday's news release. "I am incredibly thankful to Gov. Mills for the opportunity to lead such meaningful work and I look forward to working with her cabinet and community members across the state to get it done."

About Smith

Smith, 67, graduated from the University of Maine in 1973 and from Boston College Law School in 1976. He practiced law privately before joining the Maine Medical Association as general counsel in 1981.

He is a past chairman of the American Society of Medical Association Counsel, and the AMA/State Medical Society Litigation Center. He has also chaired the Maine Health Data Organization and the executive committee of the Advocacy Resource Center of the American Medical Association.

Smith is a former chairman of the Board of Quality Counts, a regional quality improvement collaborative, and a former board member of the Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

He currently is on the board of the Daniel Hanley Center for Health Leadership and lives in East Winthrop.

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