Bipartisan legislation would prohibit sales to those under age 21, license retailers, close the online sales loophole and prohibit electronic advertising in stores, which targets teens
DENVER, CO– The House Committee on Health and Insurance today passed critical legislation to address the youth vaping epidemic in Colorado. HB20-1001, sponsored by Representatives Kyle Mullica and Colin Larson would raise the age of sale to 21, require cigarette, tobacco and nicotine product retailers to obtain a license and increase enforcement to prevent underage sales.
“The youth vaping epidemic in Colorado is threatening lives and risks reversing the decades of progress we’ve made reducing teen smoking,” said Rep. Mullica (D-Northglen). “These electronic smoking products are dangerous and extremely appealing to minors. There’s a lot more we can do to keep them out of the hands of our youth, and this bill takes several bold steps forward to do just that.”
The bill would significantly enhance underage sales enforcement by requiring retailers to obtain a state license. Under current law, fines are often too low to dissuade retailers from cracking down on underage sales, and no process exists to take away a retailer’s ability to sell nicotine products if they repeatedly sell products to minors. Under HB20-1001, the state could suspend a retailer’s license for repeatedly violating state law. The bill would also mandate more frequent compliance checks and moves that responsibility to the Department of Revenue (DOR).
In addition to raising the age of sale, increasing compliance checks and creating a robust enforcement mechanism, the bill would close a loophole that allows for the sale of vaping products online. The online loophole makes it far easier for Colorado youth to purchase vaping products and then sell them in schools. During the committee hearing, a nine year old testified about how easy it is for a fourth grader to buy vaping devices online and have them delivered directly.
In an effort to further combat youth nicotine use, the bill would prohibit flashy advertising in stores that appeals to youth. It would also prohibit new tobacco product retailers from opening within 500 feet of a school.
Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and many youth who begin using vaping products transition to combustible tobacco products, such as cigarettes. Colorado has the highest rate of youth e-cigarette use in the nation, and 27 percent of Colorado high school students report that they use these products, a rate twice the national average.
E-cigarettes contain cancer-causing chemicals and toxic heavy metal particles such as zinc, lead and nickel. Furthermore, nicotine is a highly addictive chemical that can harm adolescent brain development, including working memory, attention and learning.