South Portland became the fourth city in Maine to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products on Tuesday night.

City councilors voted 5-2 to enact the ban during a hybrid meeting. The ban prohibits the sale of cigarettes, vaping paraphernalia and other tobacco products with flavors such as cotton candy, menthol, mint, bubble gum and banana that critics say hook kids and others on nicotine.

The ban will become effective April 1, 2023. The city’s police department will be responsible for enforcing violations of the flavored tobacco product ban. Fines will be based on the frequency of violations and will range from $500 up to $2,500.

Tuesday’s vote did not come as a surprise. The South Portland City Council gave its preliminary approval to the ban on Dec. 6.

South Portland’s ban was modeled after an ordinance passed by Portland in February. The city joins Portland, Brunswick and Bangor which have all enacted bans on the sale of flavored tobacco products.

“I feel very strongly that we are allowing poison to be sold on the shelves of our stores to children and young adults,” Councilor Misha Pride said. “We have to do something that shows our kids we care about them.”


Mayor Katherine Lewis joined Pride and Councilors Deqa Dhalac, Jocelyn Leighton, Natalie West in supporting the ban, while Councilors Linda Cohen and Richard Matthews voted against it.

Cohen said the ban punishes store owners, who she said don’t purposely target kids for selling flavored tobacco products. She said the ordinance will only force product users to find sources in other towns.

“This is complete (government) overreach,” Matthews said. “This is about the rights of our citizens to be able to do what they want.”

Tuesday’s council decision followed a public hearing, which was attended live and virtually by residents. While the hearing did attract a few store owners opposed to the ban, most of those who spoke supported the ban. They said vaping products in particular are marketed in a way that will addict a future generation to using tobacco products.

“I want to live in a community where cotton candy is for kids and nor’easters, not in a tobacco product,” Dr. Laura Blaisdell, a pediatrician, told the council.

“It feels predatory, having flavors that kids are attracted to,” said Mike Friedland, a South Portland parent.

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.

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.

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