A petition to overturn the South Portland City Council’s recent decision to ban the sale of flavored tobacco has failed, according to the city clerk.

Of the 1,581 signatures obtained during a petition drive organized by flavored tobacco advocates, only 984 were from registered voters in South Portland, City Clerk Emily Scully said at a council meeting Tuesday. Signatures of at least 1,109, or 5%, of the city’s registered voters are needed for a petition to proceed, she said. There were also 34 duplicate signatures.

If the petition had received the necessary number of signatures, the council would have had to decide whether to repeal the ordinance or put it to a referendum vote.

“There’s no action required of the council,” said City Clerk Emily Scully at the meeting. “The ordinance that passed on Dec. 20, regarding the sale of flavored tobacco, is in effect.”

The ban prohibits the sale of tobacco products that contain or market themselves as having any flavor other than tobacco, from candy-flavored vape liquid to menthol cigarettes. While the ban is already in effect, retailers have until April to sell their existing stock.

Petitioner Owen Casas, a representative of the Maine Vapers Association, thanked city staff for processing the  57 pages of signatures.


“It was actually really fascinating,” he said Tuesday of the signature collection process. “I enjoyed the discussions I had with folks along the way.”

A campaign by Flavors Hook Kids Maine leading up to the council’s 5-2 vote on the ban last month included the delivery of over 900 postcards from South Portland registered voters to each city councilor advocating for the ban.

“The weight of 900 postcards really sat well with you all,” Casas told the council. “I would ask that you try to apply the same weight with the folks (who) had brought their signatures forward, recognizing that the situations were different. It’s not necessarily apples to apples.”

Casas, who spoke up at numerous workshops leading up to the passage of the ban, asked to continue conversations with the council to see if there is a different resolution that would still allow the sale of flavored tobacco in the city.

Resident Russ Lunt said he saw the petition to overturn the ban at the counters of many stores that sell the products in the city.

“I think one person signed at each store,” he said.

According to Flavors Hook Kids Maine, a recent ban in Brunswick, which took effect in July, has resulted in fewer high schoolers using flavored tobacco products.

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