Flavored tobacco products banned in Denver beginning mid-2023

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DENVER (KDVR) — City council members voted to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products in the City and County of Denver.

The votes leading up to Monday night’s full vote passed with the overwhelming support of stopping the sales, but vape shop owners feel they did not have a fair chance to fight back.

The ban, approved in an 8-3 vote, will not become official until it gets Mayor Michael Hancock’s signature.

“The mayor will take the next few days to review the legislation, understand its potential impacts and implications, and then decide whether to sign the bill or not,” said Theresa Marchetta, Hancock’s director of strategic communications and media policy.

This measure was very likely to pass, as only one member voted against it moving to a full vote.

Measure had strong council support

With some shops specializing in selling these items, they say they are looking at what’s next for their livelihoods.

Vape shop owners in Denver believe a ban would put them out of business.

“It’s taken us a lifetime to build our dreams and ironically, it’s going to take a 10-second vote to destroy everything that we’ve built,” said Myxed Up Creations owner Phil Guerin.

“Over 90% of the inventory in our shop will be illegal if this goes through today. The majority of our adult customers, the ones that had been smoking for decades, they tend to choose flavors that are not tobacco because they don’t want to be constantly reminded of the thing they are trying to quit all the time,” Cignot Colorado co-owner Monica Vondruska said.

Vondruska said she has always sold to only adults and now it feels like the city is unfairly penalizing her, but supporters of the proposal say the products don’t need to be available for anyone in Denver.

“We have to deal with this as a broad public health issue. Smoking, tobacco addiction, is an adult problem. We have to address it across the board: they (children) get their products from older people. So this ban needs to take that into account,” Chief of the Breathing Institute at Children’s Hospital Colorado Dr. Robin Deterding said.

There were pleas for the council to consider adding an amendment to allow people 21 and up to purchase the items, as well as call for some flavors like menthol to be excluded. Neither of those made the final cut.

“Cigarette smoking is the number one killer in the United States. Menthol is the main vector of death and disease, mainly in poor communities and communities of color. Getting them out of that community will save lives,” Dr. Phillip Gardiner of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council said.

Exemptions were made for cigars, hookah and pipe tobacco. If the ban gets the mayor’s signature, stores will need to implement it starting July of 2023.

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