The Press Herald editorial board recently ran an op-ed titled “Our Take: Stop Tobacco Companies from Targeting Young People” (May 24), and I have some concerns and some common ground. While I think it’s extremely important to keep steamed products and their various flavors out of the reach of children and young adults, I don’t think it’s fair for our state legislature to deprive adults of it. legal age to purchase flavored tobacco products such as menthol cigarettes, chewing tobacco and flavored cigars.
As a retailer and resident of Maine, I keep fruit flavored steamer products out of the reach of children. But if a legal adult wants to buy a tobacco product, that is their decision, not our government. Supporters of the comprehensive flavor ban bill say it will limit use among young people, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows that only 1.8% of high school students are frequent smokers, I find it hard to believe that adults who use menthol tobacco products will not find other potentially illegal ways to obtain them.
When comprehensive bans, like the one contemplated here, are implemented in other states or municipalities, a whole host of unintended consequences ensue. Tobacco contraband rates are increasing, and small business owners and retailers are being forced to downsize or shut down entirely due to lost revenue.
Members of the State Legislature, please carefully consider your vote on a complete ban. Do not take away our freedom to choose.
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