Bill to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products set to enter Maine legislature
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - The Maine legislature’s committee on Health and Human Resources recommended LD 1215, “An Act to End the Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products,” as ought to pass on May 18th, sending the bill to the full legislature for vote in the coming months.
The bill was proposed by Senator Jill Duson of Cumberland and cosponsored by nine other legislators, including Senate President Troy Jackson, who represents District 1 in Aroostook County.
This is not the first time legislators have attempted to pass a bill of this nature. An act with nearly identical language died in the house in 2022 when the legislature adjourned.
Proponents say the products entice children to take up smoking by drawing them in with flavors that include cotton candy, bubble gum and mint.
“We were slowly starting to release the grip on commercial tobacco products, and then e-cigarettes were introduced,” Chastity Holland a Tobacco Prevention Community Educator with the Aroostook County Action Program said. “And the unfortunate part of e-cigarettes is that they’re sleek little devices that are trendy and attractive and have these flavors, different things that youth, adolescents, teens, young adults are all attracted to.”
Educators like Holland from ACAP’s Drug Free Aroostook program seek to teach area youth about the dangers the products pose.
“It’s kind of like, if you’re in a room full of candy, and if you’re in there, would you just take one piece, or would you take as many as you can, and most of the kids had the same answer, they would take as much as they could,” Kayden Lovely, a 10th grader who has taken part in the programs said. “It’s kind of like the same thing with vaping. Instead of just trying it once and getting done with it, it’s kind of an ongoing habit and you take as much as you can.”
But on the other side, some say the bill is taking things too far, cutting into business profits and tax revenue while not getting to the heart of the issue.
“The financial impacts of this legislation that would ban all flavored products to the state of Maine would be roughly $30 million,” Peter Brennan, executive director of the New England Convenience Store and Energy Marketers Association said. “We know that because we’ve seen Massachusetts do it, and we’ve seen all of the tax revenue that they were collecting on the sale of flavored products go out of state.”
Brennan also cited that Massachusetts has yet to see a decline of youth usage rates since its law went into effect in 2020.
A date for the bill to enter the Maine legislature has yet to be set.
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