Advocates who have tried for two years to persuade the Maine Legislature to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products blasted the House of Representatives on Friday for failing to vote on the bill before the 2024 session ended this week.

The Senate narrowly approved the proposed ban 18-16 last year, and the Mills administration said it supported the measure, with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention testifying in favor in 2023.

But L.D. 1215 never got to a vote in the House this year, pleasing ban opponents. Left on the table Thursday as unfinished business, the bill is effectively dead, and proponents would have to submit a new version next session.

“It is astonishing when a policy has this much support from Maine voters all around our state – all with the goal of protecting youth from being targeted by an industry that preys upon young people – that there wasn’t a vote,” said Dan Cashman, spokesman for the advocacy group Flavors Hook Kids Maine.

“My heart goes out to the families who will have to deal with newfound addiction in the coming years when there was an opportunity to put a stop to it,” Cashman said.

The bill would ban flavors such as mint, fruit, chocolate, menthol, vanilla and honey in all tobacco and vaping products. The federal government currently bans flavors for cigarettes – except for menthol – but permits flavors in vaping products.


Several Maine cities and towns, including Portland, South Portland, Falmouth, Brunswick, Bangor, Bar Harbor and Hallowell, have passed ordinances banning the sale of flavored tobacco products.

And other states, including Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, California, Maryland and Utah, have passed bans or restrictions on the sale of flavored vaping products. Massachusetts and California have the strictest bans.

Opponents of the ban expressed relief that the bill didn’t advance, saying that tobacco products are intended for adults and vaping products are a valid option for people who want to stop using tobacco.

“We’re thankful to the legislators who opposed it,” said Peter Brennan, executive director of the New England Convenience Store & Energy Marketers Association, which represents 7,000 stores across the region, including 940 in Maine.

“It hasn’t worked in Massachusetts and it wouldn’t work in Maine,” Brennan said. “If people want flavored tobacco, they can still go over state lines to get it in New Hampshire and the ban creates a robust black market.”



Lost tax revenue from sales and other costs, meant the bill would have cost an estimated $24.5 million to implement, according to a fiscal note completed by legislative analysts. Those costs and those representing the vaping industry criticized the bill for potentially creating a financial burden for Maine, especially when people could travel to New Hampshire to purchase flavored tobacco products.

However, public health advocates have pointed out that if flavors are banned, it would reduce costs in the health care system because fewer people would become addicted to nicotine.

“Maine kids deserve better,” Rita Furlow, senior policy analyst with the Maine Children’s Alliance, said in a statement. “They are being targeted over and over again by the tobacco industry in order for that industry to protect their profits. The only way for them to protect their profits is to get our youth hooked on tobacco, and right now, they’re doing that through flavored tobacco.”

Owen Casas, head of the Maine Vapers Association, said prohibitions don’t work and he was disappointed that legislators didn’t take the opportunity to study the issues raised by L.D. 1215.

He said it also was unfortunate that the Legislature failed to pass L.D. 2157, which would have established a state law banning tobacco sales near schools. He said the association supported the Senate version, which would have grandfathered existing tobacco shops, but the legislation died between chambers on Monday.

“We just want to protect an adult’s freedom to use tobacco products, including flavored tobacco and nicotine-based vaping products,” Casas said. “We don’t want minors to use these products.”

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