Opportunities missed to protect Maine youth from tobacco and nicotine addiction

American Heart Association disappointed by lack of action

The American Heart Association, the leading voluntary health organization focused on heart and brain health for all, issued the following statement from Allyson Perron Drag, government relations director, following the finalized Change Package which stripped tobacco flavors restrictions and did not include critical funding for tobacco prevention and cessation services. In addition, the legislature did not support  increases in tobacco taxes, all which would prevent youth from starting to use tobacco products and encourage them to quit.


“We have a shared duty to keep dangerous tobacco products away from children – and we know what we need do to help protect them, but the tobacco industry once again influenced the legislative process, and no action was taken.


“We owe it to our kids to remove all flavors from all tobacco products. Nearly all youth e-cigarette users report using flavored products and most report that flavors are a key reason for their use. Four of every five youth who have ever used a tobacco product started with a flavored product – whether it was menthol cigarettes – which are easier to smoke and harder to quit, flavored e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, cigars or cigarillos.


“One-third of Maine high school students used some form of tobacco in 2019. We know youth are sensitive to price increases and Maine has not increased taxes on tobacco products in 15 years. Tax increases are even more effective when a portion of the revenue is invested in tobacco prevention and cessation efforts.


“The American Heart Association will continue to work with our leaders to address the harms tobacco has on Maine residents.”