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Bangor repeals flavored tobacco ban over procedural error

Vaping Flavors
Mary Altaffer/AP
This Jan. 2, 2020, file photo shows flavored vaping liquids and devices on display at the VapeNY.com store in New York. New York lawmakers could ban flavored tobacco products including vape pens and menthol cigarettes amid growing concern over the tobacco industry's use of flavorings to attract young people and African-Americans. A spokesman said Monday, Jan. 13 that the Democratic Senate Majority plans to pass a ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and prohibition on smokeless flavored tobacco products as soon as the following week. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

The Bangor City Council voted unanimously Monday night to repeal its ban of flavored tobacco products over a procedural error.

Bangor was the first city in Maine to ban the sale and marketing of flavored tobacco products, with Portland imposing a similar ordinance back in February. Bangor's ban was supposed to go in effect June 1.

But councilors say the city didn't comply with a state law when considering the ordinance, which requires 30 days' advanced notice to retailers when it's more restrictive than Maine's law on retail tobacco sales.

Supporters of the flavored tobacco ban blamed the industry for exploiting a loophole in a decades-old Maine law. Representatives from the Bangor school department urged the city council to quickly enact a new ordinance.

"From working with students we also know all too well that Bangor's youth are not immune from using these products, particularly as flavored tobacco products disproportionately impact our most marginalized populations, LGBTQ+ identified students, communities of color and students experiencing poverty," said Tim Surrette, a member of the Bangor school committee.

Bangor City Councilor Clare Davitt said the council is working on a new ordinance and could begin public discussions as early as next week. The city will give plenty of notice to affected businesses, she said.