The ordinance would have banned the sale of most flavored tobacco products in the Mile High City as of July 1, 2023, though there were two notable exemptions. The first was for hookah lounges, while the second would allow for the sale of flavored tobacco products at tobacco stores, such as a premium cigar shop. That last exception came by way of an amendment that allowed cigar shops to sell not only flavored handmade cigars, which itself came via a previous amendment, but all flavored tobacco products. These amendments were agreed to based on the fact that both businesses are already required to only allow persons over 21-years-old inside.
“I share with the sponsors of this ordinance the desire and goal to reduce youth nicotine use in our city, especially youth vaping, which has become increasingly prevalent,” the mayor said in a statement. “Previously, we’ve taken steps together to reduce youth nicotine use, including raising the purchase age to 21, instituting a new tobacco retail store license and enhancing enforcement efforts. However well intentioned, this ordinance falls short. We can work on this in a more collaborative way and we can also move to enhance our existing regulatory framework, in addition to pursuing a broader strategy by acting state-wide or at least regionally. The health of our children is of critical importance – my goal is not to stop this conversation with this veto, my goal is to broaden it.”
In interviews with media outlets following the veto, the mayor added that kids could still have gone to neighboring cities to try and purchase flavored tobacco, while retailers in the city would be hurt by those sales crossing city lines. His statement went onto say that he believes such bans should be handled by the state legislature, or at least in coordination with other cities in the Denver metro area, as well as the county.
He added that he has instructed city staff to begin conversations with regional and state partners on the issue to see if it aligns with the public health significance of underage tobacco sales.
The ordinance now returns to the council for a possible veto override, a move that would require nine of the 12 council members to approve, one more than the number that originally approved the ban last Monday.