Portland, Maine, plans to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products, officials said.
Under the new ordinance, stores in Maine’s largest city will no longer be able to sell “any tobacco product that imparts a taste or smell, other than the taste or smell of tobacco, either prior to, or during the consumption of, a tobacco product, including, but not limited to, any taste or smell relating to fruit, menthol, mint, wintergreen, chocolate, cocoa, vanilla, honey, or any candy, dessert, alcoholic beverage, herb, or spice.”
The ban was presented with children especially in mind, as Portland Councilor Tae Chong said the ban is “one way to help the overall health of our kids and also marginalized populations,” The Associated Press reported.
Portland’s city council heard over two hours of public comment from the community, including from parents and health experts who were in favor of the ban, the Portland Herald Press reported.
But many businesses were not in favor of the ban and suggested alternative routes, including introducing 21 and up regulations for their small business and stricter ID checks.
The city council on Monday ultimately voted unanimously in favor of the ban.
Councilor Victoria Pelletier told the local press that she ultimately chose to support the ban because it would be the best for the children of color in her district.
“By moving forward with the ban, I’m asking, ‘Do I even have a percentage of a chance to help protect the kids at King and Reiche (schools), especially the Black and brown kids?” she said.
Portland’s ban goes into effect June 1. A similar new law will take effect in Bangor, Maine, the same day. The Brunswick Town Council also considering passing such a law, and is holding a public hearing on Feb. 22.
A bill for a statewide ban is expected to be up for a vote this upcoming spring. The American Lung Association issued a statement following the council vote encouraging the ban for the rest of Maine.
“The city of Portland made a bold statement tonight when it acted to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products,” said Lance Boucher, assistant vice president for state public policy for the association. “Not only did they take a stand to prioritize our kids’ health over tobacco industry profits, they sent a message to Augusta that Mainers are ready to leave tobacco behind.”
More than 300 communities around the country have restricted the sale of flavored tobacco products.