Hancock bans the sale of flavored tobacco products in Denver

DENVER – Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has vetoed a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products within county limits, the city said around noon on Friday.

Council Bill 1182 prohibits the sale of any tobacco product or component intended to mask the taste of the product. Flavors can include fruit, chocolate, vanilla, and candy.

In a statement, Hancock said he wants to reduce nicotine use among young people in the city, especially vaping among young people. However, he said he believed Council Bill 1182 failed to achieve its purpose.

“We can work on this in a more collaborative way and we can also improve our existing regulatory framework, in addition to pursuing a broader strategy by acting at the state level or at least at the regional level,” he said. he declares. “The health of our children is critically important – my goal is not to end this conversation with this veto, my goal is to broaden it.”

In the letter Hancock sent to Denver City Council, he explained two main reasons for the veto.

First, he said that while Denver has this protective action but neighboring counties don’t, it has the same type of effect as COVID-19-related mask-wearing orders when counties side-by-side do not line up their orders. He said if Denver was to pursue this type of ban, it would have to be passed through the state legislature to apply to all of Colorado, or at least the entire metro area in partnership with the partners. of the City and County of Denver.

“Denver is one of dozens of cities in our metro area, and in the absence of similar bans in our neighboring communities, it is not a sufficiently prohibitive barrier if our youth can simply cross the border from Denver to at the nearest convenience store and get flavored tobacco products. , he wrote in the letter.

As an example, he said, when talks about banning smoking in Denver bars, restaurants and hotels emerged in 2005 and 2006, Hancock worked with then-mayor John Hickenlooper, to make the conversation a statewide discussion, rather than creating “a patchwork of regulations.” ”

In his second reason for the veto, he said that many convenience stores derive a significant portion of their income from the sale of flavored tobacco products, and many of these stores are small and owned by minorities.

“If we were to institute this ban only in our jurisdiction, many local businesses and business owners would experience a severe drop in their income, some might choose to move to other jurisdictions where such a ban is not in effect. up, and others would have to shut down their businesses altogether, leaving their employees jobless, ”the letter said. “This economic disruption will only be felt by Denver. Additionally, providing an exemption for natural cigars and hookah lounges puts us in a position not only to pick the winners and losers of this ban, but also raises issues of. fairness that some businesses and residents should not face the burdens this ban will place on others. ”

Hancock said he wanted more conversations with city council to find other ways to get tobacco products out of children’s hands.

To kick off, he said he had tasked the Department of Public Health and Environment and its Executive Director Bob McDonald to begin discussions with regional and state partners to review their efforts and s ‘ensure that they “align with the public health importance of tobacco sales to minors”.

Denver City Council on Monday voted 8 to 3 to approve the ban. To override Hancock’s veto, city council will need nine votes in favor of the ban.

Board members Amanda Sawyer and Debbie Ortega, the measure’s sponsors, said in a statement they believe Hancock “chose profit over people.”

“Make no mistake, this is a public health problem. Departments and agencies set rules of application in their policies and procedures, and they work for the mayor, not for the council, ”they said in a statement. “If the mayor believes that stricter enforcement would be effective in tackling this epidemic, these changes could have taken place at any time. So far he has chosen to do nothing, but we appreciate his partnership to continue this discussion. “

“Having said that,” they added, “this veto is part of the legislative process, and we look forward to another Council vote on Monday evening.”

Supporters said Council Bill 1182 would help deter Denver teens and youth from trying tobacco. Opponents, including owners of vape shops, have said these products should not be banned from adults over the age of 21 and that it is a matter of personal choice.

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