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Community members push to end flavored tobacco sales in South Portland

Supporters of the ban dropped off 900 postcards at South Portland City Hall on Tuesday, urging city councilors to vote to end the sale of flavored tobacco products.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — According to the Flavor Hook Kids Maine campaign, one in four Maine high school students now use e-cigarettes, and eight out of 10 middle and high school students who use e-cigarettes use flavored products.

Nine hundred postcards were dropped off at South Portland City Hall on Tuesday, signed by community members urging city councilors to vote to end the sale of flavored tobacco products in the city.

One South Portland resident and volunteer told NEWS CENTER Maine they received all 900 signatures in one day. Volunteers said there were lines of people to sign up, and some volunteers had to leave to make more photocopies of the handouts they were offering.

The South Portland City Council will be voting on the issue. The hearing is set for Dec. 6. 

This ordinance has already been passed in Portland, Brunswick, and Bangor.

"One of the things that's important to remember is that we have 40 tobacco retailers in South Portland and these retailers are located in areas where kids spend their time," Rebecca Boulos, executive director of the Maine Public Health Association, said. "They are across the street from schools, parks, and playgrounds. One of the reasons South Portland residents are so concerned about this is that they have seen the data showing how many kids are using these products and the proximity and easy access these kids have."

Tara Pelletier, doctor of osteopathic medicine with MaineHealth, said tobacco products at young ages lead to kids not paying attention in school, not participating in sports or other activities, and could lead to other substance addictions later in life.

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