Tobacco tax headed to Glenwood Springs voters; flavored product ban, 21+ purchasing age approved
A tax question concerning the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products within the city of Glenwood Springs will appear on this November’s ballot.
Opponents of the tobacco flavor ban and tax question stood outside City Hall with signs that read, “Stop the Flavor Ban” and “No 40-percent Tax” ahead of Thursday evening’s contentious City Council meeting.
“I know the flavor ban was a point of specific interest for a lot of you, but that has passed when we did the consent agenda,” Mayor Jonathan Godes said as people filed into council chambers intending to address the issue.
The ban on flavored tobacco products and vaping oils had already been approved on first reading at the Aug. 1 council meeting, and was formalized along with other items on Thursday’s consent agenda.
“That is now law for Glenwood Springs; possibly one of the most restrictive anti-vaping laws in the state,” Godes said.
In addition to the flavor ban, City Council unanimously approved a sales tax question for voters to decide in November. It would tack on $4 to a pack of cigarettes and impose a 40-percent tax on the price of all other tobacco products sold in Glenwood Springs, should it pass.
“First of all, thank you for the action you took earlier tonight,” Carbondale Mayor Dan Richardson said before the Glenwood Springs councilors.
Carbondale has also enacted a 21-plus age limit for purchase of tobacco products and other stringent new rules.
Several opponents of the flavor ban and tax question sat silently behind the Carbondale mayor with signs that stated how long they had smoked cigarettes before quitting.
Their signs attributed the ability to quit smoking to the use of flavored nicotine oil which, when super-heated in a special device, creates a vapor that can be inhaled, instead of smoke.
“I understand that vaping, so far, has proven to be a viable alternative for smokers, but it’s also proven to be an epidemic for our youth,” Richardson said.
Because the Glenwood Council would not take public comment on the flavor ban, many area vape shop owners and employees left without saying their piece. Some called the tax question a “moot point.”
At its Aug. 1 meeting, Council did take public comment on the first reading of the flavor ban ordinance.
“I am 58 years old, and I’ll be out of business,” said Dan Rzonca. “Every vape shop around here will be gone. … I have nothing else to say.”
On top of the flavor ban, council also approved raising the age to buy and sell tobacco products within Glenwood Springs to 21.
“My husband owns The Magic Dragon, and you have totally destroyed us, and obviously you don’t care,” Nanci Brown said of their West Glenwood vape shop.
“You just go ahead and put it on a consent item so that we have no more say. Boulder didn’t even do that. Boulder’s is tabled,” she said. “But I hope you’re all happy, and I hope you have a nice life because you have just destroyed our life.”
Should voters approve the Nov. 5 ballot question, the tobacco tax would take effect on Jan. 1, 2020. The flavor ban and purchasing age do not require a vote of the people and are set to take effect in the coming weeks.
City Council also intends to separately address new, higher licensing fees for businesses selling tobacco products in Glenwood, but at a later time.
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