Denver City Council Committee defers vote on flavored tobacco ban


In a rare movement, a Denver City Council committee has decided to postpone a proposal to ban the sale of flavored tobacco and vape products for a third committee hearing.

“We don’t want to erode the value of this proposal, and I think the key to any amendment is that we are already seeing that our tobacco stores are not compliant,” the city councilor said. Amanda sawyer, who co-sponsors the prescription with the counselor Debbie ortega, said on an October 27 Security, housing, education and homelessness board committee meeting which drew a crowd into the boardroom.

Sawyer and Ortega first proposed their measure, which aims to reduce vaping rates among young people, at a board meeting on October 6. As it stands, the Sawyer and Ortega proposal would ban the sale of all flavored tobacco and vaping products in Denver, bar none. Flavored vape juices would get the ax just like hookah tobacco and menthol cigarettes. And at this point, they say they’re not inclined to add exemptions, even though other board members have proposed five different amendments.

“It’s not done with a scalpel, it’s done with a sledgehammer. And we’re going to impact adults and stop them from being adults and buying the products they want,” the advisor said. municipal. Kendra Black, which proposes two amendments that would increase age restrictions to 21 and over in tobacco stores rather than ban flavorings, said during the committee hearing. “I’m actually a historian, and history shows us that the ban doesn’t work.”

The committee ran out of time to discuss the proposed amendments during the meeting, which is why Councilor Paul Kashmann, the president, suggested discussing the proposal one last time on Nov. 17 before voting on whether to pass the ordinance on to the entire Denver City Council.

Kashmann himself proposed to exempt high-end cigars and pipe tobacco. And municipal councilor Kevin flynn proposed an amendment to exempt menthol tobacco products from the ban.

Flynn said he had heard from members of the black community on both sides of the issue, with some saying menthol cigarettes should be banned because the tobacco industry has always targeted African American smokers with menthol, and others saying black people should be free to smoke menthols if they so choose.

“The main concern I have overall with the bill, like the black adviser, is that we want to keep the products out of the reach of children., [but] this approach does it by keeping it out of everyone’s reach, ”said Flynn.

The proposed fifth amendment came from the councilor Jolon clark, which suggests that shisha tobacco be exempted from the flavor ban. During the meeting, Clark also presented a proposed ordinance that would regulate the opening hours of hookah lounges, requiring them to close at midnight; currently, they can remain open at any time. Those in the hookah industry would prefer a closing time of 2 a.m., when bars must close. Then again, if all flavored tobacco is banned, there may not be any more hookah lounges in Denver.

“It’s not what kids pull out of their backpacks in class to smoke. I think it allows a pathway for good actors and people for whom it is part of their cultural experience while ensuring the safety of our children, ”Clark said. of his amendment, adding that the proposed ordinance would solve “a problem that has plagued neighborhoods through bad operators for many years.” For years, he explained, his district had faced a problem with a hookah lounge just off South Broadway.

The committee approved sending the proposed Clark Hookah Lounge Operating Hours Ordinance to the full board.

Click to enlarge Local hookah lounge owners want to be exempt from the flavor ban.  - CONOR MCCORMICK-CAVANAGH

Local hookah lounge owners want to be exempt from the flavor ban.

Conor McCormick-Cavanagh

While hookah isn’t particularly popular among minors in the United States, vaping certainly is.

A 2020 Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention The study found that about one in five high school students, or 19.6 percent, said they had used e-cigarettes in the past thirty days. That percentage was down from 27.5% in 2019. Flavors are very attractive to children who start vaping, according to supporters of the ban.

Sawyer and Ortega’s efforts to ban flavored vaping products come after years of research and advocacy on the issue in Denver.

In early 2020, Mayor Michael Hancock expressed support for further regulation of flavored vaping products. Although the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment considered what a ban might look like, ultimately the Hancock administration did not sponsor a proposal, arguing that a policy solution should be managed at the state level. State lawmakers pitched the idea of ​​a possible flavor ban for Colorado, but never passed such legislation.

At the federal level, the Trump administration implemented a partial crackdown on vaping products that took effect in 2020. Under these regulations, stores are no longer able to sell flavored pods, the disposable cartridges that vapers place in electronic vaping devices; the only pods that outlets can still stock are those flavored with menthol and tobacco. However, federal regulations have not affected flavored vape juices that come in bottles and that vapers pour into pods or vape devices.

The Food and drug administration is currently reviewing applications for vaping products, with companies required to demonstrate that the products can have a positive impact in keeping adult smokers away from combustible cigarettes while having minimal impact on the consumption of tobacco products by youth. No flavored vaping products have been approved.

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