Tobacco Retail License program aims to reduce illegal sales to minors among other goals
PITKIN COUNTY, COLO. (July 13, 2023) - The Pitkin County Commissioners voted Wednesday to approve a Tobacco Retail License program that aligns with other local tobacco control policies and strengthens the county’s efforts to combat youth tobacco and nicotine use.
Already, the county has implemented a price increase on tobacco products and the Tobacco21 law, which raises the minimum legal sales age for all nicotine and tobacco products to 21. Adding the Tobacco Retail License program to the county’s policies aims to help decrease youth initiation and use of addictive nicotine-containing products, establish a strong compliance monitoring program, create more retailer accountability, and reduce disparities in how tobacco and nicotine products are marketed and sold.
“By adopting an effective county-wide Tobacco Retail License program, we can begin closing the regional gap in tobacco control policy, reduce sales to young people and prevent them from ever using tobacco and nicotine, and foster health equity through implementing point of sale strategies,” said Raleigh Bacharach, Health Promotion Program Administrator for Pitkin County Public Health.
While data from the most recent Healthy Kids Colorado Survey show a decrease in youth vaping across the region – down to 20% in 2021 from 28.6% in 2019 – Region 12, which includes Pitkin, Eagle, Grand, Summit, and Garfield counties, continues to have higher rates of youth e-cigarette use than the state average. Moreover, Aspen School District continues to have higher rates of vaping than the state and region, where Aspen High School students reported vaping at an almost 15% higher rate than the Colorado average.
Between 2017 and 2019, jurisdictions within and around Pitkin County, such as the City of Aspen, Town of Snowmass Village, Town of Carbondale, and City of Glenwood Springs, paved the way for advancing local tobacco control. This local control may be a factor in the regional decrease in youth vaping; however, recent data and evaluation findings regarding our localities’ flavor bans, reveal there is a need to further local tobacco control policy.
The new policy, which limits the number of Tobacco Retail Licenses to four in unincorporated Pitkin County, does not apply in the City of Aspen nor the Town of Snowmass Village. For the licensed entities in Pitkin County, the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office and Pitkin County Environmental Health will conduct compliance checks twice a year and the licensed retailers will be required to pay an annual license and renewal fee.
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