The Denver City Council voted unanimously to raise the minimum age for buying tobacco and nicotine products to 21 and Mayor Michael Hancock signed the bill into law on Oct. 1.
This makes Denver the 11th city in the state to pass a T21 ordinance, joining Aspen, Avon, Edgewater, Basalt, Boulder, Glenwood Springs, Eagle County, Minturn, Carbondale and Snowmass Village. Similar policies are currently being considered in Colorado Springs and Centennial.
The new Denver law also includes a retailer licensing ordinance, which will hold retailers accountable for underage sales. This comes after local health officials discovered how easily underage youth have been able to purchase cigarettes and e-cigarettes at Denver retailers.
According to Denver’s public health department, 7-10 percent of Denver stores sold cigarettes to minors, and 27 percent sold kids vapes and e-cigs. City officials are hopeful that the higher tobacco age will help “prevent or delay initiation of tobacco use” by teens and young adults, a perspective supported by research from the National Academy of Medicine.
The Denver bill requires licenses for all stores that sell tobacco, e-cigarettes and vapes with nicotine cartridges. The city will not grant any new smoking and vaping licenses to store owners within 1,000 feet of schools, rec centers and public pools. Retailers who are currently licensed will retain their licenses and reapply annually. In the past several months, a total of 20 communities across the state have passed similar ordinances requiring licenses for tobacco retailers.