CCAGW Urges Maine House of Representatives to Oppose LD 1550 | Council For Citizens Against Government Waste

CCAGW Urges Maine House of Representatives to Oppose LD 1550

State Action

May 25, 2021

May 25, 2021

Maine House of Representatives
2 State House Station
Augusta, ME  04333-0002

Dear Representative,

On behalf of the 9,510 members and supporters of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) in Maine, I urge you to oppose LD 1550.  This legislation would prohibit “the sale and distribution of all flavored tobacco products, including flavored cigars and  electronic smoking devices.”

LD 1550 will not prevent Mainers from using tobacco or electronic smoking devices.  Instead, they will purchase these items in neighboring states, through the internet, or on the black market. 

Before Maine jumps on board the anti-flavor train, the state should carefully examine what happened in Massachusetts, which was the first state to permanently ban the sale of all flavored tobacco products.  According to a study by the New England Convenience Store and Energy Marketers Association, lost excise tax income in Massachusetts from selling fewer menthol cigarettes alone amounted to $62 million in the first six months of the ban.  Massachusetts’ loss became its neighboring states’ gain, which is likely to happen to Maine if the state implements a flavor ban for vaping products and electronic cigarettes.

Cigarettes excise tax stamp sales dropped by 23.9 percent in Massachusetts while New Hampshire’s excise tax stamp income increased by 29.7 percent and Rhode Island’s increased by 18.2 percent.  The estimated total loss to Massachusetts including the sales tax was $73,008,000.

Under this legislation, if Maine tobacco retailers sell flavored tobacco products, they are subject to a $1,000 fine.  If it is violated again, they will be expected to pay a $5,000 fine.

The Food and Drug Administration is considering a ban on menthol cigarettes but, two dozen justice, law enforcement, legal, and drug policy organizations, including the ACLU, Drug Policy Alliance, Legal Action Center, and the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers recognized the serious problem with banning menthol cigarettes and sent a letter to the Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on April 26, 2021 expressing their concerns. 

Flavored e-cigarettes became pariahs, as many thought they caused e-cigarette or vaping associated lung injury (EVALI).  But the culprits, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was vitamin E acetate, an additive in tetrahydrocannabinol-containing e-cigarettes, which were obtained from “friends, family, or in-person or online dealers.”  In other words, obtained by illicit means.

Flavor bans are particularly injurious to individuals that use vaping or other electronic cigarettes to wean themselves off harmful combustible cigarettes.  It is the burning of tobacco that releases the harmful chemicals that cause lung and heart disease and cancer.  Public Health England continues to argue for and promote alternative nicotine delivery devices, like e-cigarettes, because they are “less harmful and could play a crucial role in reducing” smoking which “remains the biggest single cause of preventable death and disease.”  Banning flavored vapes and electronic cigarettes will hurt people who want to use less harmful tobacco products to stop smoking. 

Maine should not emulate Massachusetts’ unsuccessful ban on flavored tobacco products and electronic cigarettes.

Again, I urge you to vote against LD 1550. 

Sincerely,

Tom Schatz
President, CCAGW
                      

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