Glenwood Council to discuss possible tobacco tax, and additional rules and regulations Thursday
A tax question may appear on the ballot this November concerning the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products in the city of Glenwood Springs.
The proposed ballot question, in its current draft form, would ask voters whether the city should impose a sales tax of 20 cents per cigarette, or $4 per pack on cigarettes sold.
Additionally, should voters approve the tax, the city would also levy a 40 percent sales tax on all other tobacco products, including vaping products.
“We have found over the years that voters are a lot more comfortable if they know how long something is going to go on,” City Attorney Karl Hanlon said of the proposed tax which, if approved, would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, and remain on the books through 2040.
While the likely tax question’s outcome would remain in the voters’ hands, City Council, on its own, may enact licensing and age requirements on the sale and purchase of tobacco products via an ordinance.
“There are four big topics here: The tax, the flavor ban, licensing of retailers and raising the age to 21,” Mayor Jonathan Godes explained.
City Council will dive into all of those topics at its regularly scheduled meeting Thursday evening.
Twenty-one and up is the required purchasing age for tobacco products in Aspen, Snowmass Village, Basalt and Carbondale. However, in Glenwood Springs, one may still buy tobacco products at the age of 18.
“We have heard from those other communities that their youth are coming to Glenwood to buy those products, and we don’t want that,” Godes said. “We don’t want to be the Amsterdam of tobacco and vaping.”
In addition to Thursday’s resolution concerning the possible tobacco tax ballot questions, the separate ordinance zeroes in on requiring tobacco retailers to obtain a license through the city, the 21+ age limit for purchasing tobacco produces, plus a “prohibition on flavored tobacco sales.”
“It’s aggressive,” Hanlon said. “We are coming in with the most aggressive ordinance that we thought we could put together, and that is a starting point for the conversation with Council and the community.”
If approved, the ordinance would require a second reading before the new laws would take effect.
Several Roaring Fork Valley youth advocates and public health representatives are expected to speak before City Council in favor of the new regulations.
According to the Aspen Community Foundation, Colorado ranked number one in the country for youth vaping, coming in two times that of the national average. Additionally, over half of high school students from Aspen to Parachute had tried vaping in 2017.
A National Academy of Sciences report also projected that, if the entire country enacted Tobacco 21 legislation, a 25 percent drop in smoking initiation among high school students would occur.
Those statistics, in particular, caught the attention of Glenwood City Council.
“The rate at which kids are taking this up and the rate that they are being marketed to is astonishing,” Godes said. “They have cotton candy, gummy bear flavors … they have nicotine products made to look like they are gum packets — it’s stunning.”
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