Minturn moves to raise minimum tobacco age
Eagle County, Avon have made similar moves
MINTURN — Minturn is the latest local government to seek to change its laws in an effort to keep tobacco and nicotine products out of the hands of teens.
The town gave preliminary approval to increasing the minimum age for tobacco and nicotine sales at a meeting earlier this month. According to the proposed law, you must be 21 or older to buy tobacco products within the town, up from 18.
“It breeds a higher level of responsibility and accountability within our community and for all of our citizens for each other,” said Councilman Brian Eggleton. “My hope is the entire valley community can get on board with this and support 21 as the age.”
The town is expected to consider final approval at its meeting this week.
Tobacco and nicotine products are sold at two retail locations in town. Under Minturn’s proposed law, new licensing fees would fund greater enforcement of the minimum legal sales age.
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Also under the proposed law, tobacco and nicotine products would be kept behind the counter of stores.
Eagle County and Avon have already passed similar laws, upping the minimum age from 18 to 21. Eagle County’s new rules will take effect in November.
Vail and Gypsum are expected to consider similar proposals soon, said Mandy Ivanov, policy and partnerships strategist for youth and families with Eagle County Public Health and Environment.
The town of Eagle decided last month to not raise the minimum age, saying 18-year-olds are considered adults who are responsible for their own decisions.
Red Cliff decided to hold off to see if the state enacts new regulations, Ivanov said.
In November, voters will weigh in on a proposed Eagle County tax on cigarettes and other nicotine products. The tax would put a $4 per pack tax increase on cigarettes and a 40% tax on other tobacco and nicotine products.
The money would go to public health efforts, including prevention initiatives and cessation support.
A recent survey showed that Eagle River Valley high school students are more likely to have tried vaping and to have vaped within the last month compared to state and national averages.
The 2017 Healthy Kids Colorado survey showed that 57% of local high school students had vaped. That’s higher than the state average of 44% and the national average of 42%.
The same study showed that 39% of high school students had vaped within the last 30 days. The state average is 27% and the national average is 13%.
“We know that restricting access is huge in terms of youth use,” Ivanov said. “We want to turn the tide on that.”
About 96% of smokers begin smoking before the age of 21, with most beginning before 16, according to a 2012 surgeon general’s report.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saw a more than 800% increase in e-cigarette use in middle school and high school students between 2011 and 2015.
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