I was brought up to do things that help protect people from known dangers, and recently the Maine Legislature had the opportunity to take such an action. But in the final days of the session it failed to protect Maine’s youth from the lure of flavored cigarettes.

Like teenagers before them, such devices are considered cool; little attention is paid to the potential for a life of addiction and the dangerous health impacts.

I was a high school student in the mid-1960s and was charmed by the picture of a desert animal on the front of a cigarette package; it became my brand, non-filters, of course. At that time ad campaigns promoted smoking cigarettes on TV and billboards; even Hank Aaron beckoned us toward the habit. I was already hooked when the U.S. Surgeon General required a warning label against smoking on every pack of cigarettes. I developed chronic bronchitis within four years, so I listened to my doctor and quit.

In 2020 flavored tobacco is being marketed directly at our youth which now includes three of my grandchildren in their teen years; the flavors are designed to entice them, and the high nicotine levels to hook them. I listened to the reasons cited in favor of e-cigarettes, but I could only conclude: At what cost to the lives of Maine’s youth? Our state will pay for the long lasting health effects; lives will be harmed, even lost (look up cancer rates for smokers).

I am deeply disappointed in the Maine’s Legislature for its cowardly action on behalf of Maine children.

Elizabeth M. Cooke


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