Naples tobacco-free zone to include vapes, JUULs

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Where there’s second-hand smoke, there’s a health risk that can be reduced.

That is the objective of a Portland-based agency that helps municipalities with updating policies or ordinances that promote a tobacco-free zone at town-owned facilities. Additionally, the agency provides the town with a few “no smoking” signs.

A no-smoking policy isn’t new  — the use of tobacco is already prohibited at the town’s beach, ballfields and town hall.

What is new are the products people use to take in nicotine such as vapes and JUULs, according to Karlene Hafemann from the City of Portland Public Health Division.

“For decades, we were seeing a decline in youth use of tobacco. But, it is on the rise again,” Hafemann said. “Students — if you ask them, they will tell you cigarettes are not good for you. But, JUULs are okay.”

The tobacco-free policy was on the agenda of the Naples Board of Selectmen on Monday.

Going forward, the town will be coordinating with the agency to update the language of its tobacco-free policy, according to Naples Town Manager John Hawley.

Selectman Bob Caron II directed his comments toward Hafemann and outlined a plan to adopt the new language.

“The policy that John [Hawley] gave you, the new Parks and Recreation Committee has looked over this,” he said.

“They proposed that all properties would be smoke-free. We are strong supporters of anything that the town owns to be a smoke-free environment,” Caron said.

Hafeman gave a brief presentation to the selectmen.

According to Hafeman, it is paramount that towns update their policies to include new products available to consumers.

A town policy should define other forms of nicotine that cannot be used on town properties. This is an important step in reducing second-hand smoke.

“Ten years ago, it would have been burning cigarettes. But now, vapes and JUULs” are becoming increasingly popular.

“JUULING products came out two years ago, and they have caMdoes, or ones that look like cigarettes.

“JUULs look like USB devices and charge on the computers.

“It can sit in a bracelet or up a sleeve or inside a sweatshirt,” she said, illustrating how a person could discreetly use the product while in the classroom.

“It is rampant with the kids,” Hafemann said.

She said the local school district has already contacted the Public Health Division asking for assistance in addressing the usage of vapes and JUULs in the schools.

“Your own school has reached out to us. So, we know it is a problem statewide,” she said.

She explained how the division came into being.

“Maine does not have traditional health department at the city or the county level. But, there are tobacco settlement funds. We are an all grant-funded department. We do work for all of Cumberland County,” she said.

The division’s purpose is two-pronged: to address second-hand smoke in public places and to reach out to students in the schools in an effort to stem the start of smoking.

The outreach in schools is different from what the division offers municipalities.

“What we are doing with municipalities is to take a look at existing tobacco-use policies,” she said, adding that towns can either add new language to policy or amend an ordinance.

“A policy puts into commitment all the tobacco-free rules. All of your spaces will be tobacco-free,” she said.

Earlier, during her presentation, Hafemann referred to some statistics, saying that Maine has the highest level of tobacco use in New England,and that Maine has one of the highest occurances of lung cancer in the U.S.

Later in the discussion, she said, “In terms of adults who smoke, we are not trying to punish the adults. We are trying to reduce the second-hand smoke.We are trying to reduce the rates of second-hand smoke in Maine.”

Naples resident Bob Nyberg came up to the microphone to speak his peace.

“Whenever the government tells you that you can’t do something that is legal, that is wrong,” he said.

“These are people who have an agenda and are well-funded. They use all the wrong figures for cigarette smoking,” he said.

“I speak for America. I speak for the Constitution. You cannot usurp the rights of the individuals in this community. You shouldn’t take away the rights of individuals. This is America,” Nyberg said.

Chairman Jim Grattelo cleared the air.

“We aren’t saying that we are prohibiting it in the entire town of Naples. We are considering banning smoking [vaping, JUULing] in public places,” he said.

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