DENVER (KDVR) — Should Colorado crack down on vaping?
Just last December, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock vetoed a city council measure that would have outlawed the sale of flavored nicotine products like vape juice and menthol cigarettes. After the plan in the Mile High City was thrown out, advocates of the ban are bringing it back – at the statehouse.
State lawmakers say they are trying to stop kids from getting their hands on flavored items to smoke, but unlike the Denver debate, opponents are now looking to another state effort as a reason for lawmakers to reconsider.
“I would say most of all what they have to listen to is what the voters told them to do in 2020, which was tax these products, these specific products, so that we can have universal pre-K,” said Phil Guerin, owner of the vape shop Myxed Up Creations. “And that is really part of the solution, and that’s the beginning of the real solution, which is educating our children.”
Opponents argue if the proposed flavor ban passes, the pre-K program could take a big funding hit, as it is a big driver for consumer sales. It is something lawmakers said they are taking into consideration.
“We always run that risk when we want to fund these important programs off of taxes like this that are vices. I think hopefully we start maybe getting away from that because I don’t think that’s probably the most appropriate way to fund these programs,” said state Rep. Kyle Mullica, D-Adams. “But I do think we have the ability to continue funding those programs with the budget we have this year.”
The bill would also create a grant program that would distribute $10 million of grant funding to help educate communities that have been unfairly affected by nicotine advertising and sales.
Folks have also been wondering why this bill is getting traction so late. It was introduced in January but only recently started moving. The bill sponsor said they were talking to industry stakeholders, but small vape shop owners FOX31 talked to said they were not included in those talks. If passed, shop owners would need to implement the changes by 2024.