OVERVIEW | Denver in the racial and political haze of vaping | Focus on Denver

Race permeates political discussions these days, and this week Denver City Council proposed the debate in flavors of cotton candy, lemon, gummy bear or menthol.

Denver is the latest city to consider a ban on flavored vaping products, matching a federal ban on flavors sold by major e-cigarette manufacturers that went into effect in September. However, small independent stores can still sell them.

Anti-tobacco activists want to advance their line by bankrupting small stores, and local government has proven to be the best avenue. The battle cry is that children become addicted to cigarettes by inhaling savory vapors with delicacies such as puffs of cinnamon toast.

Democrats who run the Colorado General Assembly failed to secure a ban on leaving the House last year.

It’s a public health issue, but it’s also a fiscal issue. Colorado levies a tax of one penny per cigarette, a 2.9% sales tax, and a 20% excise tax on tobacco products other than cigarettes, of which 27% is allocated to local governments. Legislative budget analysts said the ban would cost the state budget $ 129.3 million last year.

Next week Denver City Council is expected to make a final decision on a ban, but Monday night they heard the matter was loaded.

The Denver Public Schools Board of Education sent out a proclamation supporting the ban alleging that “flavors play a major role in the use of e-cigarettes by young people because they mask the taste of tobacco and make it easier to use new ones. users “.

The school board cited the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids claim that 25.9% of high school students in Colorado use e-cigarettes and 1,400 per year make them.

More than 40 people registered to speak on Monday evening, and some of them argued that the ban on flavored puffs, especially menthol, disproportionately affected black people.

“Politics is one thing, but life is another,” said Alvertis Simmons.

He said black people could see what was going on in an ostensibly public health discussion that immediately turned to the premium cigars exemption – “that old white men with money smoke”, said the black activist – and spices for a hookah that are considered culturally relevant.

Simmons said menthol cigarettes are culturally relevant for black smokers.

“Is the next thing you’re going to do is tell black people not to eat collard greens?” He told the diverse city council. “I mean, at the end of the day you talk about fairness, but you have to be fair. You talk about being fair. Then treat us like we are fair and like voters. You have to treat us like you. do it when you come into our community and ask for our votes. You must treat us the same, and we ask you: do not ban menthol cigarettes. “

Brian Fojtik, a Denver resident who works for the National Association of Tobacco Outlets, said pro and anti-tobacco fanaticism, based on guesswork and hidden agendas, has put family-owned cigarette stores, resorts and stations at economic risk. -service and convenience stores.

Many of those Colorado stores are owned by immigrants, he said.

The industry is hoping city council will opt for stricter licensing, best practices and regulations, rather than shutting down a revenue stream with the government’s heavy hand on adults, some of whom are trying to wean tobacco in a whiff. sweet cherry at a time.

The ban will not come into effect until July 2023 and ultimately does not achieve its goal – breaking the nicotine chain – but encourages it more.

The ban on flavors sold by Coloradans creates an involuntary monopoly for major electronic cigarette manufacturers such as JUUL, Vuse and NJOY. Yes, they were blocked from selling the less potent flavored vapes in September.

The exclusion of independent sellers, however, is pushing drug addicts or considering making a habit of embracing high nicotine products sold by large companies. The rich get richer.

Anyone who wants vapers just needs to pass their tax dollars across the municipal border to communities like Lakewood or Aurora.

Most of the facts are against enacting a ban, but you can’t number a person’s lungs unless you’re talking about life expectancy.

Politics is a smoke and mirrors proposition, however.

It’s uncomfortable whether the flavor ban targets black people, but black Denverites after others have said they believe it, and the perception is reality.

Race is as important a topic as the one we have on our busy national agenda right now. The fact that he’s everywhere at once, however, will tire even the most sympathetic infantrymen.

Less is probably more, Denver.

About Margaret Shaw

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