Colorado state lawmakers want to ban flavors for tobacco and vaping products in 2022

Following a defeat to ban flavored smoking and vape products in Denver, state lawmakers are considering a flavor ban that could be enacted throughout Colorado.

Several cities have passed similar bans, but an attempt to do so in Denver failed after Mayor Michael Hancock vetoed the city council vote and members failed to override his veto. He and other advisers cited the need for statewide regulations, saying a ban in Denver would fail to achieve the goal of keeping these products out of reach of teens while surrounding municipalities did not have the same regulations.

Representative Kyle Mullica, Democrat for Northglenn and emergency room nurse, worked on a bill that would address what the U.S. Surgeon General declared a youth vaping epidemic in 2018 and focus on this what Mullica called the “gateway” to this vaping addiction – flavored products. In 2018, Colorado youth vaped twice as much nicotine as the national average.

“We know this is the most effective way to try to make sure kids aren’t addicted to tobacco products, nicotine products,” Mullica said. “And so I think that’s an important thing that we need to look at, especially from a public health perspective.”

The legal age to purchase products to smoke or vape is 21 years old.

The bill as it stands now – it has not yet been tabled and is still under development – calls for a ban on all flavored vaping and cigarette products, allowing only the traditional tobacco flavor. Lawmakers have passed bills in previous sessions to reduce adolescents’ access to tobacco and nicotine products, but a bill to ban flavorings in 2020 has been scrapped.

A study released this year by the government’s National Youth Tobacco Survey showed that the number of teens using e-cigarettes has declined this year, but around 2 million teens and teens are vaping. A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that most products were traded between friends, and teens preferred flavored e-cigarettes.

But a statewide ban has met with resistance, especially from local vape shop owners, who say they are not the main culprits of these kinds of products being put between. the hands of adolescents and that such a ban could ultimately bankrupt them.

Monica Vondruska, who owns two vape shops in Denver and Arvada, has opposed such bans and also hopes to campaign against the statewide ban. She believes if a flavor ban were to go into effect, she would have to close the doors of her stores in 30 days because more than 90% of her inventory is flavored vapors.

Vondruska also argues that flavor bans will instead make it easier for the black market to sell products to minors.

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

The vaping devices are on display at the Cignot Vape Shop in Denver on December 21, 2021.

“Making things that are illegal for a certain age group more illegal for everyone doesn’t really help this situation,” she said. “It just takes less harmful products away from adults who need them. “

House GOP Minority Leader Hugh McKean of Loveland shared similar sentiments, saying the ban didn’t work in the 1920s, and it won’t work now. And while he understands that there is a public health problem for adolescents, he doesn’t think that’s the solution.

“In a way, you are interrupting the normal market where you could make changes that make it more difficult (for teens to buy products),” he said.

The target audience for vaping stores is smokers, so they try to provide them with a less harmful alternative to vaping, and the flavors help, Vondruska said.

A note from lobbyists representing 125 independent vape shops in Colorado said store owners oppose this type of ban because they believe they will increase cigarette smoking among young people, increase online vaping sales. and destroy the businesses of the local vape shops. He also noted that local stores sell different products from vaping giant JUUL.

Instead, the owners advocate letting federal and state regulations such as the federal ban on flavors in closed vaping devices and raising the age to 21 to purchase tobacco products be allowed. The memo called for other solutions to the youth vaping problem, such as enforcing a more robust licensing plan in municipalities and toughening penalties for stores that sell to minors. He cited data from 2019 showing that a majority of young people said factors other than flavor caused them to try e-cigarettes.

Alex Smelser works on shelving displays ...

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

Alex Smelser works on shelves of vape products at the Cignot Vape Shop in Denver on December 21, 2021. After Denver fails to ban flavored tobacco products, Colorado state lawmakers seek to pass a ban statewide. Monica Vondruska, owner of Cignot, plans to oppose it as she did in Denver and has said if flavors are banned her store will close “within 30 days.”

But supporters of the bill argue that it is the flavors that lead to continued use and lifelong addictions, and the data shows that flavors also help initiate that use.

“When we look at the data from Colorado, we know that adults are not the end users,” said Jodi Radke, Rocky Mountain / Great Plains region director of the Tobacco Free Kids Campaign. “Very few adults actually use vaping products and a very small percentage use smokeless cigarettes and over 13% smoke. So our numbers do not reflect the high usage rates in adults and epidemic levels in our children. “

Radke cites data which shows that in 2017 about 5.3% of adults used e-cigarettes and in 2018 3.5% of adults used smokeless tobacco. She said many flavored products entered the market illegally without FDA approval, and then government inaction got them into the hands of children. His organization is part of several lawsuits against the FDA.

Radke believes some of the regulatory proposals for systems like increasing fines and penalties are ineffective depending on where children say they have access to the products.

While Democrats will have a harder time getting Republicans into a flavor ban, it’s an easy sale for GOP Senator Kevin Priola of Henderson who is considering signing the bill. He said it was the year to pass this bill as people have become more aware of health issues, especially when it comes to COVID.

“It’s good for children and it’s good for lowering the cost of health care and keeping people healthier and having more productive lives and less disease, less disease,” Priola said. “And so I think it’s good policy. It does not ban cigarettes. It does not create a black market for cigarettes. It just makes sure that if you really, really love cigarettes, they’re still available. It’s just that they won’t be in almost candy-like flavors that kids can really get used to enjoying.

Lawmakers will also need to convince Democratic Governor Jared Polis that a flavor ban is a good idea. In a statement, spokeswoman Victoria Graham said: “The governor has signed legislation granting local governments the power to regulate tobacco products and as a general philosophy prefers local control because our local governments are the closer to the people they represent. “

About Margaret Shaw

Check Also

Premier Manufacturing launches a new look for 1839 cigarettes

Photo courtesy of US Tobacco Cooperative RALEIGH, North Carolina — Premier Manufacturing launches a new …