The “Tobacco 21” advocates argued forcefully in favour of raising the legal age, saying that skyrocketing e-cigarette use has sparked a teen health crisis in Colorado.

If the age limit is implemented, Denver would join seven states and about 440 cities with similar 21-plus restrictions.

If adopted by the Denver City Council, the “Tobacco 21” proposal would raise the sales age of tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21. “This is a critical first step toward fighting the reemergence of tobacco in today’s society,” said Dr. Robin Deterding, chief of pediatric pulmonary medicine at Children’s Hospital Colorado, during a rally at Denver’s city hall.

Last December, Colorado’s Governor John Hickenlooper had said that teen vaping has become an epidemic, and had therefore signed an executive order urging state lawmakers to take action against youth vaping.

Additionally, earlier in 2018, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment had released results of the Colorado Healthy Kids Survey. This had indicated that out of 37 states surveyed across the United States, Colorado had ranked the highest for youth vaping.

More enforcement required

Subsequently, a proposal to raise the age limit was initially brought forward last March, however this was tabled by the City Council until after May’s citywide elections. Additionally, proponents of the ordinance had pointed out that it would be useless without enforcement against retailers that sell to underage customers.

“We don’t know who’s selling tobacco across the city,” said Jodi Radke, regional director for the Campaign for Tobacco Free-Kids at the time. “So when we go to check to ensure that they’re not selling to kids, we actually don’t even know that we’re checking all of them.”

If the age limit is implemented, Denver would join seven states and about 440 cities with similar 21-plus restrictions. In Colorado, Edgewater, Aspen, Avon, Basalt and Carbondale have already implemented such the age limit and Boulder’s City Council has indicated that it will do so soon.

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