SOUTH PORTLAND — With city councilors moving forward to adopt the state’s first local ordinance banning the sale of flavored tobacco products, two attorneys laid out grounds for how the law would be contested.
“A total ban, such as the draft ordinance presently before the Council, would be unlawful if enacted,” attorneys Peggy McGehee and Joseph Talbot of Perkins Thompson said in a March 26 letter to the council.
Working on behalf of Portland Smoke & Vape owners Anthony Scott, Mark Scott and Chris Jackson, the attorneys said the city is overstepping state and federal law with a potential ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products used in vaporizers and e-cigarettes.
In a workshop Tuesday, councilors moved the ordinance ahead to full council deliberation, a public hearing, and vote. It was revised from the ordinance presented at a March 5 workshop to more clearly define flavored tobacco, how it is also illegal to furnish tobacco products to minors, and how fines would be assessed and collected.
Mayor Claude Morgan on Wednesday said he expects a vote by the middle of May. The city must give 30 days’ notice to all licensed tobacco sellers before a first reading can be conducted.
Morgan said the ban affects only the cartridges, or “pods,” used in vaporizers and electronic cigarettes.
“We are not banning the big devices, we are not tackling that,” he said.
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