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Some Maine lawmakers are buying into the theory that if you remove menthol cigarettes from store shelves, smokers will suddenly quit. As the Bangor Daily News recently reported, supporters and opponents of a statewide flavored tobacco ban made their cases to legislators at a public hearing on April 25. I was one of the speakers who opposed the ban.

I presented tobacco sales data showing that when Massachusetts passed a similar ban, the state sold 30 million fewer packs of cigarettes. However, a Reason Foundation study shows a total of 33 million additional cigarette packs were sold during the same period in the counties that border Massachusetts in Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. When you dig even deeper into the sales in the entire six-state region, there was actually a net increase of 7 million additional packs.

In other words, Massachusetts smokers didn’t suddenly quit because of the ban. They just shifted their dollars to neighboring states. It’s important that lawmakers have all the facts when making decisions that will impact Maine businesses and the adult customers they serve.

Rob Chapman

National Convenience Distributors