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Glenwood Council approves aggressive new tobacco rules and regs

A smoker lights up.
Kyle Mills / Post Independent

Glenwood Springs City Council unanimously approved a first reading Thursday night of an ordinance that would impose new rules and regulations on tobacco and vaping products.

“For the sake of saving lives and the lives of our children, I am going to make a motion that we do accept this ordinance,” Councilor Steve Davis said. “I think we should enact that as soon as possible, which I know will take council 90 days or so.”

The ordinance, which requires a second reading, includes raising the purchasing age on tobacco products to 21 and older, licensing requirements for tobacco retailers and a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products within city limits.

Glenwood Springs remains the last municipality in the Roaring Fork Valley that allows 18-year-olds to purchase tobacco products. However, the driving force behind the ordinance was less about cigarettes and more about keeping vaping products out of the hands of children.

“Our middle schoolers are consuming e-cigarettes as a social activity. A group of them might come to the bathroom and share an e-cigarette,” Roaring Fork Schools Superintendent Rob Stein said before council.

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“But then they get addicted and by the time they are in high school we are not seeing it as a social activity. We are seeing kids hide it in their hoodies because they are truly addicted and they need to keep feeding the addiction in order just to get through their day.”

However, many local business owners and employees in the industry argued that they were in strict compliance with tobacco laws and took issue with the flavor ban, specifically.

Smoker Friendly government relations Vice President Mary Szarmach pointed out what a flavor ban on tobacco products would look like.

“A flavor ban, for instance, the way yours is written today, would prohibit premium cigars — a hand-rolled artisan product, very boutique, hundreds of years old — because those contain flavors,” she said.

“I am not sure that is exactly what you are after,” Szarmach argued. “I feel a little unhappy that we didn’t get an opportunity as a retail community to even talk about this ordinance at all with the council members. I don’t think that’s very fair.”

City Council is also considering a possible ballot question that would impose a significant tax increase on the sale of tobacco products in Glenwood Springs, should voters approve it. That matter was postponed until later this month.

mabennett@postindependent.com


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