On April 17, 2024

Gov. Scott’s veto of a flavored tobacco ban is a win for small businesses, the economy, and adults’ right to make choices 

Dear Editor,

Governor Phil Scott’s decision to veto S.18, legislation that would ban the sale of flavored tobacco and nicotine products in Vermont, is a win for small businesses, the economy, and adults’ right to make their own choices.

Proponents of bans like this argue they are necessary to protect public health by preventing the attraction of young people to nicotine use. The truth is, these products are already illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase, and efforts from responsible retailers and strong enforcement policies have driven youth tobacco use to historic lows.

When products are removed from licensed retailers, these safeguards disappear as people turn to the illicit market and unregulated online vendors who don’t bother to check IDs. We’ve seen this happen before in Massachusetts, where a ban on all flavored tobacco products led to an uptick in cross-border purchases. Fortunately, Gov. Scott and a bipartisan group of legislators in both houses of the Green Mountain State’s Legislature recognize that flavor bans are the wrong approach.

Governor Scott also understands the importance of Vermonters’ right to choose. In his veto letter he states: “We have an obligation to protect our children, but it must be balanced in such a way that we honor the rights and freedoms of adults to make decisions about their individual lives.” This thoughtful consideration of the implications and consequences of such legislation is the equitable approach Vermonters deserve so that both the public health and economic prosperity of the state are preserved. 

I commend Governor Scott’s willingness to listen to various perspectives and make decisions that prioritize the well-being of Vermont’s citizens, while also respecting personal choice and the economic interests of the state’s small business community.

 Peter Brennan, Boston, is the exc. director of the New England Convenience Store & Energy Marketers Assoc.

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