The health and well-being of our youth, and therefore the future of our state, is currently being debated in the Maine State House, but I’m not sure what there is to debate. LD 1215, “An Act to End the Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products,” will help reduce youth tobacco use and addiction, and promote healthier communities in Maine.

It’s a fact that the vast majority of tobacco users start young, most before the age of 18. Flavored products are responsible for hooking the youth of today and tomorrow. Nicotine addiction harms their own health, drives up our medical costs and eventually negatively impacts every segment of society, including Maine businesses. I’ve read that smoking costs Maine nearly $1.5 billion annually in health care expenses and lost productivity. Tobacco use and related illnesses also make finding healthy and reliable staff that much more challenging.

Having served as a youth worker with ages 11-20 for over two decades, I saw children pulled into nicotine addiction predominantly by peer pressure. Today, I see marketing by tobacco companies aimed at children through the manufacturing and sale of flavored tobacco products that are difficult for parents, teachers, coaches and youth workers to detect. By the time the habit is detected, it is too late and addiction is firmly rooted.

I support ending the sale of flavored tobacco products in Maine because no one benefits from youth tobacco addiction, other than the big tobacco companies and retailers who rely on selling these dangerous products. The passage of LD 1215 would not only allow Maine youth and young adults to succeed and lead tobacco-free lives, but it would also help Maine businesses thrive. I urge Maine legislators to support LD 1215.

Scott Linscott

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