New Colorado Law Give Communities Authority to Regulate, Tax Tobacco Products

House Bill 1033 Gives Local Governments the Power to Pass Strong Tobacco Control Laws to Curb Youth Tobacco and E-cigarette Use

March 28, 2019

DENVER, Colo.—Today Governor Jared Polis signed House Bill 1033 that gives all Colorado cities, towns and counties the ability to pass local tobacco control policies to help protect their citizens from tobacco use. It overturns a decades-old clause in state law that had blocked these local efforts to combat tobacco use, the leading cause of preventable death. 

The new law allows localities to raise the age of sale for tobacco products to 21 and to tax and regulate tobacco products and license retailers. It removes the financial penalties that Colorado communities previously faced when they tried to tax or regulate tobacco products. 

Regular and significant tax increases on tobacco products effectively reduce tobacco use. Increasing the age of sale for tobacco to 21, coupled with strong enforcement, is also a proven youth tobacco prevention policy. Previously, cities, towns and other municipalities were penalized with a fine and lost their share of the state’s cigarette tax revenue if they tried to pass their own tobacco taxes or license retailers. Counties were prohibited from licensing or taxing tobacco products.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the Colorado Tobacco-Free Alliance supported this effort to remove the 46-year clause in state law that blocked communities from passing local ordinances 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.

"Thank you to our sponsors, the Colorado General Assembly, and Governor Polis for their support of House Bill 1033. Until now, local leaders were powerless to stop tobacco use in their communities or combat the public health crisis surrounding youth e-cigarette use in Colorado," said R.J. Ours, Colorado government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. "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."

"Local leaders know and recognize the issues their communities face due to tobacco, yet for over four decades, they faced 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."

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

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.




Media Contacts

Noe Baker
Senior Manager, Media Advocacy
RJ Ours
Colorado Government Relations Director