We’re searching for a better word, but the best we have is “disappointed.”

That’s our feeling regarding our elected officials and LD 1550, the bill to end the sale of flavored tobacco products in Maine.

My daughter and I trusted the process. We trusted our lawmakers to do the right thing. We trusted that the health and safety of kids would prevail over profits for big tobacco. And that trust all feels misplaced now.

The really unsettling thing is that the Legislature never voted on it at all. That means that we cannot hold accountable those who decided that big tobacco marketing dangerous, harmful, addictive products to children is okay. Instead, we are left feeling like we wasted our time in Augusta talking with legislators who seemed like they cared, but ultimately chose not to act.

Meanwhile, the tobacco industry will continue marketing flavored tobacco products to kids. High school-aged kids, and even middle schoolers, will see flavors like cotton candy, peppermint mocha and watermelon, and they will be told that vape products aren’t “that” harmful to them. They will get hooked, big tobacco will make loads of money, and these kids’ lives will be impacted forever.

It didn’t have to be this way, but the Maine Legislature decided otherwise.

We were feeling many emotions as the clock wound down on this session without LD 1550 being brought before the House. But now that the dust is settled, we are feeling very, very disappointed.

Joseph Valiente, Lewiston

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