SOUTH PORTLAND — South Portland could become the fourth city in Maine to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products under an ordinance that received initial City Council approval Tuesday night.

Modeled after an ordinance passed in Portland in February, the ban would end the sale of cigarettes, vaping paraphernalia and other tobacco products with flavors such as menthol, mint, bubble gum and banana that critics say hook kids and others on nicotine.

“I support this wholeheartedly,” Councilor Misha Pride said before voting. “Flavors are the marketing. The flavors exist to draw in younger smokers. This is poison.”

The vote was 5-2 for the ban, with councilors Linda Cohen and Richard Matthews opposed. Both stated concerns about the potential impact on businesses and adult tobacco users.

Portland Smoke & Vape shop at 585 Broadway, in the foreground, sits across the street from Daniel F. Mahoney Middle School, in the background, in South Portland. Brianna Soukup / Portland Press Herald

“This is total overreach … to tell Grandpa Joe, ‘You can no longer smoke flavored tobacco in your pipe,'” Matthews said.

The proposed ban, which calls for escalating fines of $500 to $2,500 per violation, faces a final vote on Dec. 20.


South Portland was the first city in Maine to consider banning flavored e-cigarette liquids in March 2019 – after Portland Smoke & Vape opened a shop across from Mahoney Middle School in October 2018. The council put the previous proposal on the back burner, however, anticipating a federal ban that has yet to happen, according to council documents.

Bangor, Portland and Brunswick have since approved bans, all of which went into effect June 1. Efforts to pass a statewide ban have been unsuccessful.

Portland Smoke & Vape owners Chris Jackson and Anthony Scott were among several people who spoke against the proposed ban in South Portland. They criticized councilors for leaving them out of the ordinance development process and said their customers will take their business to neighboring communities that allow flavored tobacco sales.

City Clerk Emily Scully said the council received about 900 postcards signed by ban supporters, some of whom testified on the impact of vaping in the city’s schools, neighborhoods and families.

Leah Day told the council that one of her children rapidly became addicted to vaping and suffered a variety of health problems before finally being able to quit a year ago. “It was unbelievable what happened,” she said.

Seven states and over 360 municipalities and counties have restricted e-cigarette and other flavored tobacco sales in various ways, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Maine already prohibits the sale of flavored non-premium cigars.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.