The Denver City Council is considering raising the age to purchase tobacco and nicotine products from 18 to 21.
The move comes as public health officials across the nation warn about teenage use of flavored e-cigarette products, which were recently banned in Michigan. President Donald Trump is also reportedly preparing a federal ban on flavored e-cigarette products.
Denver’s Safety, Housing, Education, & Homelessness Committee on Wednesday voted unanimously to advance a bill that would prohibit tobacco and nicotine product sales, including e-cigarettes, to individuals under the age of 21. The full council still needs to consider the proposed ordinance.
Earlier this year, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment pointed to a Center for Disease Control survey that said Colorado had the highest youth vaping rate in the country among the 37 states where the survey took place.
Tristan Sanders, a public health program manager for the city and county of Denver, noted in a presentation to the committee that in 2017, 23 percent of Denver high school students reported that they regularly used tobacco products and 18 percent said they regularly vape.
The new regulations would also affect small business retailers by requiring them to obtain a license to sell tobacco and nicotine products. It would cost small businesses $250 to apply for the license and require a $500 licensing fee, Sanders said.
Retailers in the city were invited to give feedback on two separate occasions.
The new ordinance would “protect the approximately 120,700 people under 21 years of age in the City and County of Denver from tobacco-related morbidity and mortality,” the proposed bill says.
E-cigarettes have been cited as a less-harmful alternative to smoking tobacco and sometimes useful in quitting the smoking of tobacco, but public health officials have said they are still harmful to teenagers, calling teenage use of vape products an epidemic.