I am writing to express my concerns regarding L.D. 1215, legislation that bans the sale of flavored smoke-free nicotine products, which will have a negative impact on Maine’s small businesses. Banning flavored nicotine products will only cause people to shop in other states, removing a source of revenue from Maine small businesses.

After Massachusetts passed a similar ban in 2019, 90% of lost sales shifted to neighboring states, with cigarette sales increasing by 22% in New Hampshire in the first 12 months following the ban. This proposal is also bad for taxpayers. Following Massachusetts’ ban on menthol cigarettes, the state received $114 million less in tax revenue, as purchases moved to neighboring states. In Maine, the ban is projected to cost the state roughly $24 million in tax revenue.

This ban is unnecessary to prevent youth use, as responsible retailers and small businesses are already doing their part. Retailers in Maine have a 94% compliance rate with no incentive to sell these products to anyone under 21. According to the latest report from the CDC, youth tobacco and nicotine use is at a historic low. The data shows that banning flavors is not necessary to prevent young people from using tobacco and nicotine products. Studies have also found that restrictions on flavored vaping products actually increase the use of combustible cigarettes among young people. According to the Yale School of Public Health, e-cigarette flavor restrictions that were in place for one year or longer led to a 20% increase in sales of cigarette brands disproportionately used by underage smokers. This is the exact opposite of what we want to achieve for public health. Instead, policymakers should focus on strong enforcement and educational policies that have clear results.

I urge lawmakers to reject L.D. 1215.

Richard Snow

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