Dec 7, 2021 - News

Denver passes ban on flavored tobacco products

A person exhales vapor from an electronic cigarette device. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Say goodbye to e-cigarettes that taste of strawberry, pineapple and peach.

Driving the news: After months of debate, the Denver City Council approved a controversial ordinance on Monday that outlaws the sale of flavored tobacco, including menthol, beginning in July 2023.

  • With the new rule, Denver becomes the seventh Colorado municipality to enact a ban on flavored e-cigarettes.

Why it matters: The original plan, designed to curb young people's nicotine consumption and addiction, has been watered down dramatically after fierce opposition from Big Tobacco, retailers and consumers.

Details: The sale of most flavored nicotine products, including flavored cigars and chewing tobacco, will be banned.

  • But thanks to hard-hitting lobbying efforts, exemptions are now in place for hookah products — including water pipes and shisha tobacco — natural cigars, pipe tobacco and harm-reduction tools.

Of note: The ordinance calls for retailers to receive a warning for a first offense. Subsequent offenses could lead to a store losing its tobacco retail license.

Catch up quick: The plan, backed by council members Amanda Sawyer and Debbie Ortega, was initially pitched in October.

  • But it was seen as a "broad overreach" by other members and faced staunch opposition from tobacco and hookah industries.

What to watch: As we've previously reported, Colorado lawmakers who unsuccessfully tried to pass a statewide bill banning flavored tobacco products in 2020 don't plan to pick up the issue again anytime soon, Sawyer told council members in October, but could find new momentum following Denver's progress.

The bottom line: The ban won't meet proponents' goal of eliminating youth nicotine addiction. Any Denver resident looking for flavored vapes can simply travel across municipal lines to cities such as Lakewood or Aurora — or buy the products online.

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