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07/01/2021

Maine's Proposed Flavored Tobacco Ban Loses Support

The state's $8.5-billion budget does not include funding to offset revenue loss from the measure.
Cigarette sales

AUGUSTA, Maine — A proposed ban on flavored tobacco products is on the brink of failing as the state's budget heads to Gov. Janet Mills' desk without financial support for the measure.

State lawmakers approved the $8.5-billion, two-year budget on June 30 by a 119-25 vote in the Maine House for Representatives and a 32-3 vote in the Maine Senate. The overwhelming support means the budget has the necessary two-third votes to pass into law immediately after Mills signs it, according to the Bangor Daily News.

The governor has signaled she will sign the budget in the coming days.

The state budget headed to a vote in the full legislature after the budget committee finalized the budget package over the weekend. However, the package does not include $32 million to offset revenue that would be lost if the proposed flavor ban — which includes menthol cigarettes — goes into effect.

As the Bangor Daily News reported, some state lawmakers argued a ban would not only be too expensive for the state, but also drive tobacco consumers over the border to New Hampshire.  

On May 7, Maine Legislature's Committee on Health and Human Services introduced a bill during a that would ban the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars and dips, and electronic cigarettes, as Convenience Store News previously reported.

A ban would come at cost. According to Maine Wire, a fiscal note attached to the bill details that it would reduce revenue to the General Fund by $15.2 million in fiscal year 2021-2022 and nearly $22.9 million in fiscal year 2022-2023 if it became law.

Additionally, it would reduce the Local Government Fund revenue by $100,027 in fiscal year 2021-22 and $150,697 in fiscal year 2022-23.

Without a measure to replace the revenue in the budget, the proposed legislation may carry over and not receive a vote this legislative session, it added.