“Smoking in schools has been going on since before I was born and I don’t know if this is going to stop that,” Rodriguez, D-Denver, said. “Over my four years here, we have done so many things to reduce this, and the data shows us it is reducing.”
In 2020, roughly 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 20 middle school students used e-cigarettes nationally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2021, use decreased to roughly 1 in 9 high school students and 1 in 35 middle school students.
Outside of the Capitol, critics have said the ban is unfair to adult users and it would push small vape shops out of business. During a public hearing on the bill, several owners and employees of local vape and tobacco stores said 98% of their tobacco and nicotine products are flavored, arguing the ban would force them to close.
“I’ve been in this industry for 13 years ... this bill would put us out of business,” said Jason Casados, president of Vapor Source. “Have we done absolutely everything possible accomplish the issues before we go to extremes with a full prohibition?"
The bill's supporters, who include doctors, parents and teenagers, described a dire state in Colorado with frequent vaping in middle and high schools.
Some youths who testified during the public hearing spoke of children vaping during class and blowing smoke into their backpacks, while others said they’ve heard rumors of their peers providing sexual favors to adults over 21 in exchange for vape cartridges.
Jodi Radke, director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, criticized the governor’s local control stance on the ban, saying it is too easy for youth to access the products in neighboring cities. While cities, such as Boulder and Glenwood Springs, have passed flavor bans, last year, Denver’s mayor vetoed a ban passed the City Council approved because he said it must be statewide to be effective.
“We are committed to working on this issue at the local level, but we need his commitment to making this a state priority, as well,” Radke said. “His campaign promises around supporting the health of our communities, as well as his stated commitment to lowering health care costs argue for the proposal we’re putting forward, not against it.”
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