A push to end the sale of flavored tobacco products in Maine

A bill to stop the sale of flavored tobacco products was postponed from the last Parliament.

AUGUSTA, Maine – A survey by the US CDC found that more than 30 percent of teens in Maine were vaping.

Only five states have permanently banned flavored tobacco products, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island. Maine lawmakers hope to join this list soon.

“Right out of high school I feel like it’s kind of like something inevitable knowing people who have used flavored tobacco products,” said Rachel Ellis, 19.

She added that she cares about the health and well-being of her peers and knows a lot of people do it because it’s “cool.”

“It’s the most popular thing to do. Everyone does it, so I think it’s easy to get carried away by this,” Ellis said.

Representative Michele Meyer, D-Eliot, is hopeful that Maine becomes the next state to ban flavored tobacco products.

“Tobacco kills more people than any other addiction, and we know it’s a teenage addiction,” Meyer said.

In the last legislative session, Meyer proposed legislation to end the sale of flavored tobacco products, but that would leave a $ 32 million hole in public funds, which Governor Janet Mills added to the budget of state, but lawmakers did not approve it.

This forces the legislature to reconsider the bill this session with many Mainers supporting it.

“These flavors are designed to make kids addicted to nicotine, and the Mainers don’t want them,” said BJ McCollister, an advocate for the bill.

There are, of course, people who oppose it, including Brett Scott of Smokers Haven. He said banning menthol cigarettes was one thing, but banning vaping was a problem for him.

“The part where you include vapers in these bans is very unfortunate because we hear the stories from our consumers about the impacts flavored vapers have on them,” Scott said.

He added that the vapes could help people quit smoking.

Some cities, such as Bangor, have already banned the sale of flavored tobacco products. But in the end, it will be up to the legislature to make it a statewide ban.

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