Maine Senate Acts to Protect Kids… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
sign up

Maine Senate Acts to Protect Kids from Big Tobacco by Voting to End the Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products

Statement of John Bowman, Executive Vice President for U.S. Programs, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
June 22, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Maine Senate has taken a major step towards protecting the state’s kids from the tobacco industry by voting to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including flavored e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. The Senate deserves enormous credit for standing up to Big Tobacco and taking action to end this industry’s predatory targeting of kids, Black Americans and other communities with flavored products. This legislation will protect kids from tobacco addiction, advance health equity and save lives. We urge the Maine House to join the Senate in approving this lifesaving legislation at the earliest opportunity.

We thank Sen. Jill Duson for her strong leadership in introducing this legislation and all the senators who voted for the bill.

There is strong public support and momentum across Maine for ending the sale of flavored tobacco products. Polling shows that 63% of Maine voters support ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products. Five Maine communities – Bangor, Brunswick, Portland, South Portland and Bar Harbor – have already passed laws to do so. It’s time for a statewide law to protect all kids and communities in Maine.

This legislation cracks down on the tobacco industry’s most pernicious tactic for luring and addicting kids – the marketing of flavored tobacco products. Research shows that 81% of kids who have ever used a tobacco product started with a flavored product.

Flavored products have fueled high rates of youth e-cigarette use and nicotine addiction. Nationwide, more than 2.5 million kids use e-cigarettes, and 85% of them use flavored products. In Maine, 17.5% of high school students use e-cigarettes.

Menthol cigarettes have been a favorite tobacco industry strategy for targeting kids, Black Americans, Latinos, the LGBTQ+ community, and other communities. Half of all kids who ever try smoking start with menthol cigarettes. The evidence shows that menthol cigarettes are more addictive, easier for kids to start smoking and harder for smokers to quit. The tobacco industry has particularly marketed menthol cigarettes to Black communities for decades, causing devastating and disproportionate harm to the health of Black Americans.

In addition, cheap, flavored cigars – sold in hundreds of flavors like cherry dynamite, tropical twist and chocolate brownie – have flooded the market in recent years and fueled the popularity of these products with kids. The 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey shows that cigars are the second most popular tobacco product (after e-cigarettes) among all high school students and are especially popular among Black youth.