Eagle raises tobacco purchase age to 21
Town Board reverses direction to raise the age to buy, sell from 18
EAGLE — In the end, no one argued to allow teenagers to buy tobacco, so Eagle’s Town Board raised the age to buy and sell it.
After voting earlier this year to continue allowing 18-year olds to buy tobacco products in Eagle, the five Town Board members present Tuesday voted unanimously to raise the legal age to 21.
With Tuesday’s vote Eagle joins other communities and counties around the region to raise the age to buy and sell tobacco products to 21. Earlier this year the Town Board narrowly opted to leave the purchase age at 18. The board reversed that decision Tuesday.
Increasing the age to 21 is more than symbolic, said Lillian Reynolds, an Eagle Valley High School senior. Students are becoming increasingly addicted to nicotine, and many cannot sit through a class period without a nicotine fix, she said.
“Increasing the age to 21 decreases their access to addiction,” Reynolds said.
Town Board Member Kevin Brubeck made the motion to raise the age.
“I never want to see government take personal liberties from our citizens,” Brubeck said.
Still, during the hearings on the issue, dozens of people argued to raise the age, citing health concerns and the vaping epidemic. They heard no opposition to raising it, Brubeck pointed out.
Teen tobacco use on the rise
Peter McNally, Valley View Hospital’s executive director for physician operations, argued to raise the age to 21.
Colorado is the nation’s No. 1 vaping state, and 39% of teens have used an electronic smoking device in the last 30 days, McNally said.
When electronic cigarettes were initially introduced they were marketed as ways to help smokers stop.
“They’re not considered quitting aids,” he said.
In fact, many vaping flavors are aimed at the youth market, many of whom are misinformed and mistaken about what’s in them, McNally said.
He said 60% of teens say their most of the ingredients in their vape pod is flavoring. It’s not. They’re packed with nicotine, and it’s increasing teen tobacco use.
“Teen tobacco in the Roaring Fork Valley was down to 6%. Now it’s 16%,” McNally said.
A Colorado state government study found that an estimated 27 percent of Colorado teens use the devices.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that approximately 96% of adult smokers begin smoking before age 21, most beginning before age 16.