Vail may soon raise the age for tobacco purchase to 21
Eagle County health official says most effective ways to combat youth vaping are price increases, raising legal age
VAIL — Responding to what’s been described as a “crisis” of youth vaping, town officials may soon pass town-specific regulations regarding the purchase of tobacco products.
After a presentation on teen vaping — using tobacco products with a small vaporizer — officials seem ready to raise the age for the purchase of tobacco products and may require stores that sell those products to obtain town licenses.
A Tuesday presentation led by Mandy Ivanov of the Eagle County Public Health Department gave council members a look at the breadth of the problem.
According to a 2017 survey of local high school students, 70% of respondents said it’s easy or very easy to obtain vaping devices. Fully half of those younger than 18 who use the products said they’d purchased a vaping device.
Ivanov told council members that the most effective ways to combat youth vaping are price increases, raising the age for legal sales and retail licensing of stores that sell the devices.
The price increases — often done via a tax, which must be approved by voters — can have a dramatic impact.
Ivanov said that for every 10% increase in the price of tobacco products, youth use drops by as much as 7%.
If it acts, Vail would join a number of other area towns in more tightly regulating tobacco products.
Raising the age of legal purchase from 18 to 21 also has an effect, since younger teens are less likely to associate with those 21 and older.
The Avon Town Council in 2018 raised its tobacco purchase age to 21. Avon voters in November of 2018 passed a tobacco tax that imposes a $3 per pack tax on cigarettes and a 40% sales tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Aspen has raised the purchase age, and in June banned flavored tobacco products in town.
While Vail is likely to move forward with raising the purchase age and licensing tobacco sellers, it may wait before investigating a tobacco tax increase, which voters would have to approve.
Ivanov said Eagle County is considering its own tobacco tax question this year, and may raise the purchase age in unincorporated areas — Edwards and EagleVail in the Vail Valley. But, she said, county officials are encouraging towns to act regarding the purchase age and retailer licensing.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-748-2930.