As a pediatrician and mother, I urge the Brunswick Town Council to vote in favor of the proposed ordinance to end the sale of flavored tobacco.

Despite laws to limit sales to those over 21, we know electronic vaping products still get into the hands of our youth, and we are seeing the effects, including shortness of breath, nicotine withdrawal and a dependence much more likely to develop into a lifelong addiction in young users. Many of the youth I talk to don’t realize the fun, flavored vaping devices contain nicotine. This is intentional. The tobacco industry uses flavors to hook kids because a developing brain is easier to addict.

A recent article in The Forecaster quoted public health researchers who were concerned banning the sale of flavored tobacco products would be a step backwards. I disagree. I believe banning flavors is an essential step in preventing the initiation of nicotine use. Before the introduction of vaping products, youth nicotine use was on the decline. The introduction of vaping devices abruptly ended that progress. The current rate of youth e-cigarette use is similar to the rates of youth cigarette use in the 1990s. In my opinion, this is the step backward.

As we prevent initiation, we also have an obligation to support those who may seek to quit when access to flavors decreases, another benefit of a flavor ban. There are many free tools available to youth and adults interested in quitting, including Mid Coast Hospital’s BeFree Program, Maine QuitLink and your local medical provider.

Enacting a flavor ban chooses kids over tobacco industry profits, and I applaud the Brunswick Town Council for their leadership.

Andrea Loeffler, MD

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