The Tobacco 21 movement can plant its first flag in Colorado, as last night the Aspen City Council voted 5-0 to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21-years-old.
Retailers that sell to persons under 21 would face fines starting at $500 and a possible three day suspension of their license, escalating to $2,000 for a fourth violation and a revocation of their tobacco retailer license.
In addition, no one under 21 years old would be allowed to have any interaction with tobacco products should they work at a store that sells them, something the ordinance defines as selling, stocking, retrieving or otherwise handling tobacco products.
“Aspen is such a health-conscious town and our residents and guests enjoy life here for the clean air and exercise opportunities,” said Steven Skadron, mayor of Aspen, via a press release. “Our leadership is essential in creating a City known for its healthy lifestyle and ethic. This law will positively contribute toward the goal of lowering smoking rates in young adults,” he added.
The new law, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2018, does not criminalize the possession or use of tobacco or alternative nicotine products such as e-cigarettes by persons between the ages of 18 and 20, however.
The city is also creating a new tobacco retailer license, which will cost $500 per location for 2018. Money from those fees is used to offset the estimated $75,000 in tax revenue the city will be losing from increasing the minimum purchase age, as well as for administering compliance checks of existing retailers.
Aspen is home to approximately 7,000 residents, but is best known for being a destination for skiing and resorts.