Bangor YMCA CEO Diane Dickerson speaks in support of a ban on flavored tobacco sales in Bangor during a city council meeting on Monday. Dickerson said the effort was ultimately about protecting children from addiction to tobacco products. Credit: David Marino Jr.

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I recently read that the Bangor City Council will repeal the local ordinance to end the local sale of flavored tobacco products. Although I learned that it was due to a procedural issue, it is still discouraging.

I hope the city council will do the right thing and pass a new version of the local ordinance after following the proper notification procedure.

Let’s not let this repeal reopen debate on the issue again. I believe big tobacco misrepresents the harmful effects of these products,  claiming they are just a tool to help adults quit smoking. However,  only a small percentage of adults use flavored tobacco products.

In reality, flavored tobacco products are being marketed to younger people, with flavors that appeal to adolescents. As rates of traditional smoking decline, it seems the tobacco companies are trying to find new customers, or “replacement smokers,” as they have been called in the industry.

As a pediatrician, I am very aware that vaping is common among local teens. It is easy for them to acquire these products from others. In my experience, underage kids report being able to buy flavored vape products in local convenience stores.

Despite the innocent-sounding flavors, these products still contain nicotine, the addictive chemical in all tobacco products. Local bans are a tool to reduce this risk. The Bangor City Council did the right thing in the fall. I ask that they do the right thing again and re-enact the ordinance to end the local sale of flavored tobacco products.

Milissa Burch