Governor Mills Signs Bill to Protect Health of Maine Children By Prohibiting Electronic Smoking Devices on School Grounds

Governor also signs several bills into law, including a ban on the use of polystyrene food and beverage containers

Governor Janet Mills announced today that she has signed legislation to protect the health of Maine children. LD 152 “An Act to Prohibit the Possession and Use of Electronic Smoking Devices on School Grounds,” sponsored by Senator Rebecca Millett of Cape Elizabeth, bans the use or possession of all electronic smoking devices and tobacco products on school grounds, school buses, and at any school sponsored event.

According to the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Monitoring the Future survey, teen vaping rose dramatically last year with 37.3 percent of 12th graders reporting “any vaping” in the past 12 months, up nearly ten percent from 27.8 percent in 2017.

“Over the last several decades, we have made significant progress in reducing youth smoking but vaping presents a new and emerging threat to the health of Maine children – and that is unacceptable,” said Governor Mills. “By banning electronic smoking devices from school grounds, we are taking an important step in protecting the welfare of our children and sending the clear message that smoking, in any form, is a threat to their health and their future.”

“I submitted this bill after hearing from Maine teens about how worried they were about e-cigarette use among their peers,” said Senator Rebecca Millett, D-Cape Elizabeth. “I’m very pleased Gov. Mills has signed this bill into law. It’s time we listen to our kids, and do everything we can to make sure schools are truly healthy learning environments.”

Governor Mills today also signed into law LD 289 “An Act to Prohibit the Use of Certain Disposable Food Service Containers,” sponsored by Representative Stanley Zeigler of Montville, which prohibits the sale or distribution of disposable food service containers made of polystyrene – more commonly known as Styrofoam – in Maine beginning January 1, 2020.

Polystyrene food containers are a significant contributor to environmental plastics pollution. Due to their light weight, they are easily windblown during waste handling processes. They then break down into microplastics, carrying toxins when ingested by wildlife where they eventually make their way into the nation’s food supply. There are at least 14 Maine towns and cities that have banned polystyrene disposable food containers at the local level and two additional towns will see their polystyrene ban take effect at the end of this month.

“Polystyrene cannot be recycled like a lot of other products, so while that cup of coffee may be finished, the Styrofoam cup it was in is not. In fact, it will be around for decades to come and eventually it will break down into particles, polluting our environment, hurting our wildlife, and even detrimentally impacting our economy,” said Governor Mills. “That is why several municipalities across the state have already taken steps to ban polystyrene. This legislation will create consistency for businesses that operate in multiple municipalities, provide ample time to adjust to the change, promote sustainable Maine-made alternative containers, and take an important step forward in protecting our environment.”

“With Governor Mills’ signature on this legislation, Maine is now leading the nation in dealing with polystyrene pollution,” said Representative Paige Zeigler, D-Montville, the bill’s sponsor. “Polystyrene is harmful to humans, it puts strain on our fish stocks and it can’t be recycled. Thankfully, there are Maine-made alternatives ready to be used. This shift to using sustainable containers and materials is a shift to a cleaner Maine.”

Additionally, Governor Mills also signed the following bills into law on Tuesday: