Tuesday, 19 February 2019 17:42

Bill could ban sale of e-cigarette containers Featured

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AUGUSTA -State legislators are looking into different ways to regulate e-cigarettes after they said they've seen an increase in their use. One of those proposed bills would mean banning the sale of nicotine liquid containers, but some testifying at the state capitol felt legislators have it wrong.


That means e-cigarette products like Juul could soon be a thing of the past in Maine, if lawmakers okay the proposed bill and the governor signs it into law.


A public hearing on that bill took place Tuesday.


"It's a product that kills people, simple as that," said the bill's sponsor Michael Carpenter (D - Houlton). "We had a better handle on youth smoking ten years ago, and it's just exploded by hundreds of percent in the last four or five years because of e-cigarettes."


Carpenter said the bill would cut down on people dying from nicotine addiction, and that e-cigarettes are not a tobacco cessation product. The bill also has the support of the state senate president.


Legislators said use of e-cigarettes among kids as young as middle school is a growing problem.


One look at Juul's website shows their flavors come in everything from mango to cucumber.


Another proposed bill would try to address that by working with the state's attorney general to limit marketing toward kids.


"I've heard from parents that students who are minors are getting advertisements to their Facebook accounts," said that bill's sponsor, Nicole Grohoski (D - Ellsworth), "and certainly I've heard them on the radio."


She said her bill has support from the American Lung Association.


But a group of former smokers and local vape shop owners said kids aren't their target customers, and vaping helps people quit traditional cigarette smoking.


"We don't want the youth to use our products, we want smokers to use our products, adult smokers," said John Nathan with New England Vapor Technology Association. "And we welcome any sort of hindrance to youth use."


Those in opposition to the bill said there have been no deaths caused from vaping.


Opponents also said lawmakers should focus on gas stations - not vape stores owned by Mainers where you have to be 21 just to enter.


"We're not a bunch of college kids, I'm not here to be cool, I don't blow big clouds in people's faces," said Graham Vinson, the owner of Empire Vape Shop, which has multiple locations in the state.


Lawmakers said they hope the multiple bills proposed to address vaping can complement each other to find a solution.


Kelly Mitchell

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Kelly Mitchell joined the news team in March of 2018. She grew up splitting her time between York, ME and Haverhill, MA, but her favorite childhood memories took place along the rocky coast of southern Maine. She's now e...