Residents turned out to a Falmouth Town Council meeting Monday predominantly in support of a ban on flavored tobacco sales in town.

The ban was proposed last month with the intent of preventing youth from accessing flavored tobacco and getting addicted to nicotine. Under the ordinance, sales of menthol and candy- or fruit-flavored tobacco products, including cigarettes, vaping liquids and lozenges, would be prohibited in town. The sale of non-flavored tobacco products would still be allowed, as would FDA-approved smoking cessation products like Nicorette, Councilor Amy Kuhn said Monday.

“The goal is to reduce access for underage users, not to prohibit adults from using it,” Kuhn said.

Kuhn said that before bringing the ban proposal to the council, she asked Falmouth school staff members if flavored tobacco use among kids is a hypothetical concern or an actual concern.

“Our school personnel are seeing more kids and younger kids initiating use and becoming addicted,” Kuhn said.

Of the audience members speaking at the council’s public hearing Monday, most were in support of the ban, although retail representatives spoke in opposition to it.


Dr. Peter Shaw of Falmouth, a retired cardiologist, told the council he has dealt for decades with the clinical consequences of tobacco use.

Arterial plaque that causes heart attacks, and cancers of the mouth, tongue, lungs and esophagus are commonly developed over a lifetime of tobacco use, he said.

“Habits are formed early on in teenage years,” Shaw said. “Flavors like menthol, bubblegum and fruits are designed by tobacco companies to attract and habituate young people, creating an addicted consumer population that will suffer the medical consequences years in the future.”

Retired family physician Skip Schirmer agreed, saying he started smoking in high school. He quit before starting medical school.

“It wasn’t easy, and that was unflavored tobacco,” he said. “I can’t see any good reason to have this stuff.”

But the executive director of the New England Convenience Store and Energy Markets Association, Peter Brennan, told the council that flavored tobacco bans don’t work as they are intended.


If the products aren’t sold in Falmouth, he said, users will simply drive to other towns or even across the border to New Hampshire and buy them there.

“Bans don’t work,” he said. “The impact of the product ban is harmful to the retailer when users can buy the product from another town.”

Ben Brooks, an employee of Nouria Energy, which operates a convenience store in town, said flavored tobacco bans don’t have the impact on access they are believed to have.

Stores like his already take age verification seriously, he said. State law prohibits the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21.

“We don’t want these products getting in the hands of teenagers,” Brooks said. “I don’t believe teenagers are buying these products, at least at our stores.”

The Town Council made no decisions regarding the proposed ban Monday night. The discussion is scheduled to continue Dec. 11.

If passed, Falmouth would be the sixth municipality in the state to end the sale of flavored tobacco products. Portland, South Portland, Brunswick, Bar Harbor and Bangor have enacted similar bans.

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