I moved to South Portland in January and was genuinely shocked to see a smoke and vape store across from Mahoney Middle School. Yes, in plain view with neon signs flashing.

Are there no zoning laws to protect our schools and children from this kind of exposure? What was the rationale – if any – for allowing a store like this in such a sensitive location?

The statistics cited in a recent op-ed (“Maine Voices: Fundraiser benefits battle against epidemic youth vaping,” April 14) are alarming: Vaping nearly doubled among U.S. high school seniors in 12 months, with an astonishing 48 percent jump in use by middle schoolers. This epidemic will have disastrous results.

I applaud the efforts of people like Lois Skillings (author of Sunday’s Maine Voices and president and CEO of Mid Coast-Parkview Health in Brunswick), the many bike riders who will Trek Across Maine and the $10 million in proposed additional funding from Gov. Mills, but there clearly are places where this message has not been taken seriously – like South Portland. I hope other towns and cities will site these stores and their harmful merchandise away from important venues like schools, sports areas and other places where our children study and play and prepare to become adults.

Pat Thatcher

South Portland

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