Bangor’s city council will repeal an ordinance banning flavored tobacco sales after the city failed to provide enough notice to tobacco businesses warning them about the new law.
Bangor was required to directly notify local tobacco retailers at least 30 days before it considered the ordinance, because the proposal was more restrictive than state law, city solicitor David Szewczyk told councilors on Monday during a workshop.
The ordinance was set to go into effect June 1 after the Bangor City Council voted 7-1 last fall to ban the sale of flavored tobacco, like menthol cigarettes and electronic cigarettes that have a taste or smell other than tobacco.
Szewcyzk said that the city would run into legal problems if it tried to enforce the ban because it didn’t provide enough notice to affected businesses.
“I think the cleanest way would be to repeal the ordinance and then start over,” Szewcyzk said.
Bangor was the first Maine municipality to vote to ban flavored tobacco in October following hours of debate among local businesses, interests such as the National Association of Tobacco Outlets and anti-tobacco advocates, who cited the ability for children to become addicted to nicotine through flavored tobacco.
Portland enacted its own anti-flavored tobacco sales ordinance in February, and Brunswick passed one last week.
A statewide bill that would ban flavored tobacco products in Maine, L.D. 1550, has been tabled since last year. The Legislature concluded Monday without taking action on it. Bangor councilors passed the city’s ban on flavored tobacco partially in hopes that it would spur lawmakers to take statewide action.
Bangor council chair Rick Fournier said that the city would repeal the ordinance, then revisit the possibility of enacting a new one.
“Expect a lengthy meeting when that occurs,” he said.