I read, with great interest and disappointment, the guest column (Maine Voices, Jan. 26) by the chief operating officer of Maine Smoke Shops, regarding her opposition to a proposal to end the sale of flavored tobacco products in Portland.

Candy-flavored cigars are displayed at a tobacco shop in Albany, N.Y., in 2013. The Portland City Council will soon consider banning sales of flavored tobacco in the city. Hans Pennink/Associated Press, File

I am not surprised, but I am still disappointed.

The column threw around a lot of numbers and percentages, but it ignored the larger issue.

Tobacco companies are specifically targeting youth in the sale of flavored tobacco products. Of course youth are not supposed to be able to purchase these products. However, the packaging, the marketing and the flavors used in these products are all designed with the intent to hook a new generation of tobacco users on nicotine. Period. And that is wrong.

Tobacco companies have been telling us that vaping is not dangerous, and can help people quit smoking. Not surprisingly, further studies found the opposite to be true: that vaping can be as dangerous as, or, potentially, more dangerous than smoking.

Protecting profits for small businesses is understandable, but it should never be done at the expense of the health and safety of Maine kids. I’m hopeful that the Portland City Council understands this and votes to end the sale of flavored tobacco in Maine’s largest city, and I’m hopeful that the Legislature will take notice and follow suit for the entire state.

Heather Drake
Cape Elizabeth

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