HALLOWELL — City officials are considering a proposal to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, vapes and other devices that discharge flavored nicotine.

The proposal emerged from Hallowell’s Health & Wellness Committee, chaired by Councilor Ryan Martin. Councilors Kate Dufour and Patrick Wynne are also on the committee, which presented a proposal during Monday’s City Council meeting.

The council put the proposal on hold Monday after realizing the city’s licensed tobacco sellers were not given a 30-day notice before the vote, as is required.

“The notice will go out now for the formal first reading to be at the Dec. 11 City Council meeting, and then the public hearing will be during the January meeting,” City Manager Gary Lamb said.

Lamb said delaying action on the proposal would ensure that local stores that might look to sell flavored tobacco products are part of a transparent process.

“There have been some tobacco associations that have been calling the mayor and myself that are interested in making sure that these things are not prevented from being sold,” Lamb said.


Flavored tobacco products, especially vapes and e-cigarettes, have gained popularity in recent years. Alarmingly, teenagers are among the products’ biggest users, according to experts.

In 2021, the state’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Advisory Council submitted a study to Gov. Janet Mills. It concluded that one in four Maine high school students uses e-cigarettes, a rate that had doubled from 2017 to 2019. It also noted that more than 80% of the country’s youth reported that “availability and variety of flavors are their primary reason for using e-cigarettes.”

Earlier this year, the Maine Legislature discussed a bill that would place a statewide ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products. The bill was supported by the Senate but never voted on by the House of Representatives. The proposal was carried over to the 131st Legislature and is expected to be taken up after the session commences Jan. 3.

Wynne said he believes municipalities should begin drafting ordinances to ban flavored tobacco products, instead of waiting for the state to act.

“I would encourage my colleagues to understand why it is expected of the municipality to take action,” Wynne said. “It is easier for us to do because we don’t have to debate the fiscal impact like the state Legislature does. Municipalities can do this without any financial barriers.”

Wynne’s colleagues on the city’s Health & Wellness Committee disagree.


Martin said while he is concerned about the use of flavored tobacco among youths, he does not believe a ban on retail sales in Hallowell is the right approach.

“Ultimately, this would impact one or two local retailers and do little to reduce the availability of these products in our community,” Martin said. “Instead, I believe we should be investing more resources in youth education and prevention programs.”

Dufour said she holds a similar opinion.

“The state should be left to enact a ban on sales. I would focus on implementing solutions that are useful for our city,” Dufour said. “Without statistics, I can’t even tell if students who have access to these products are buying it downtown. We should instead focus on seeing if we can provide funds to schools for educational or preventative programs.”

Dufour said the primary objective should be to demand the state enforce laws in place to limit the access minors have to flavored tobacco and other products.

“The state really needs to address this issue,” she said.

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