Maine could become one of the first states to ban the sale of flavored tobacco
Maine could become one of the first states to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products under a bill currently before the Legislature.
The ban would extend to products such as menthol cigarettes and flavored chewing tobacco, cigars and electronic cigarettes.
The Maine CDC and other health groups support the ban. They say teens can easily get addicted to e-cigarettes that taste like gummy candy or Pop Tarts, and the problem has worsened in recent years.
Brunswick pediatrician Dr. Alyssa Goodwin spoke out in favor of the ban at a public hearing on Friday. She said reports of cigarette smoking are rare among her adolescent patients. But a majority of them said they or someone they knew used e-cigarettes.
“My high school students talk about the need to avoid using the toilet due to the use of uncontrolled and uncontrolled vaping. And so, while in my practice I have seen that the use of nicotine fuel products is almost unthinkable for the teens I see, they don’t. beats an eyelash when it comes to vaping because in their world it’s everywhere, ”she says.
So far, only Massachusetts and California have approved bans on the sale of all flavored tobacco products, although California is on hold pending the outcome of a tobacco industry referendum.
The Maine bill, LD 1550, will then be the subject of a working session at the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee on May 12.
Supporters of the bill also say that groups such as people of color and LGBTQ people are particularly vulnerable to becoming addicted to flavored tobacco products.
In a public hearing Friday, Penobscot Nation member and Bill supporter Nyle Sockbesin said he first tried chewing tobacco as a teenager.
It made him sick and he lost interest. A few months later, a member of his high school hockey team offered him a pinch of grape-flavored tobacco.
“I accepted his offer and enjoyed the flavored dip very much. So much so that this pinch of grape dip has led to an almost 10-year struggle with smokeless tobacco addiction. These flavored tobacco products seemed attractive and harmless to my teenage years. The taste was immensely nicer than the flavorless dip I had tried before, ”says Sockbesin.
A number of convenience store owners have spoken out against the bill. They claim the ban would hurt Maine businesses.
Some Mainers have argued that vaping is a less harmful habit that has helped them quit smoking. Other opponents have said the ban on flavored tobacco products could lead to undue harassment of people of color who are more likely to use them.
Supporters of the proposed ban say Maine has one of the highest rates of tobacco-related illness and death in the country, and they believe the ban would reduce state health care costs .