DENVER, Colo.—The Colorado House of Representatives today passed legislation that would provide local governments the ability to regulate all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, in their own communities. The bill now moves to the Senate.
If signed into law, House Bill 1033 will allow communities to make their own public health decisions about tobacco control, such as licensing of tobacco retailers, level of tobacco tax rates and age of tobacco sales, that are stronger than current state law. The bill would also remove fiscal penalties that penalize communities when they try to regulate tobacco products.
Regular and significant tax increases on tobacco products effectively reduces tobacco use. Increasing the age of sale for tobacco to 21, coupled with strong enforcement, is also a promising policy. However, under current Colorado law, municipalities and counties lose their share of the state’s cigarette tax revenue if they try to pass their own tobacco taxes or license retailers. This revenue often funds critical programs in communities, forcing local leaders to choose between keeping harmful and addictive products like cigarettes out of kids’ hands or funding local services.
As the nation grapples with skyrocketing rates of youth e-cigarette use, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) and its tobacco prevention partners with the Colorado Tobacco Free Alliance (CTFA), urge Colorado lawmakers to remove the 45-year old clause that preempts, or blocks, local governments from passing local tobacco ordinances that are stronger than state law. Preemption has been a longtime strategy of Big Tobacco. While states should set a minimum standard for public health protections, they should not prevent local governments from going beyond that minimum standard to benefit their citizens.
"We deeply appreciate the House's support for this important bill. Colorado teens use e-cigarettes at twice the national average, yet our outdated state law leaves local communities powerless to combat this public health crisis," said R.J. Ours, Colorado government relations director for ACS CAN. "Many public health polices start at the local level and these local ordinances are often more innovative and tailored to meet a community’s needs. What works in Denver won’t necessarily be the right solution for another city, so communities must be allowed to make their own decisions on how to regulate tobacco products as they see fit."
Unlike Colorado, most states require a license to sell tobacco products. Colorado does require a license for selling alcohol and marijuana. HB 1033 would also give local governments the authority to raise the tobacco sales age to 21 and regulate the sale of these tobacco products in the same manner the state regulates other controlled substances like alcohol and marijuana.
"Local leaders know and recognize the issues their communities face due to tobacco, yet they face extraordinary barriers to address these issues and improve public health," Ours added. "Our communities deserve all the tools at their disposal to protect people from tobacco, which causes roughly 30 percent of cancer deaths in the state."
About ACS CAN
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit www.fightcancer.org.
About the Colorado Tobacco Free Alliance (CTFA)
The CTFA is a partnership of statewide advocate groups working together to develop sound tobacco control polices utilizing grassroots tactics at both the state and local level. CTFA partners include the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, Children’s Hospital Colorado, the Colorado Group to Alleviate Smoking Pollution (GASP), Healthier Colorado, and National Jewish Health.