Carbondale trustees weigh raising tobacco purchase age to 21 | AspenTimes.com

Carbondale trustees weigh raising tobacco purchase age to 21

Matthew Bennett
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

In an effort to curb minors from smoking cigarettes, chewing tobacco and inhaling from vaporizers, Carbondale leaders may raise the age to buy products containing nicotine from 18 to 21 in their municipality.

“You know I was the one who originally brought this issue up,” Carbondale Mayor Dan Richardson said. “For me it is all about trying to minimize exposure to our youth from any kind of tobacco and or vaping products because I just worry about the long-term effects, so that’s my purpose for pursuing this.”

According to the mayor, school resource officers have informed town officials that the usage of vaping products among minors has increased; however, pinpointing exactly how remains the question.

“So how they are getting it? We don’t know,” Richardson said. “You know, it’s possible to buy all of these products online, so raising the age in Carbondale may be a moot point if (minors) are just going to buy it online.”

Neighboring communities like Aspen and Basalt have already made 21 the legal age to purchase tobacco products.

And, according to a memorandum from Western Mountain Region Tobacco Control Coordinator Mandy Ivanov to Carbondale Town Manager Jay Harrington and Carbondale Town Attorney Mark Hamilton, “Aspen and Basalt are now set up to be successful in their efforts to curtail youth tobacco use in their communities through strong licensing and a [minimum legal sales age] of 21,” Ivanov explained when posed the question if any other town in Colorado have raised the purchase age to 21 without additional licensing requirements.

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In fact, no other community in the state passed an age-21 rule without subsequent comprehensive tobacco retailer licensing laws as well — an additional measure Carbondale may become the first to do without.

The mayor described two tiers of possibilities.

The first would simply prohibit the sale of tobacco and related products to anyone under the age of 21 without requiring an additional license for vendors.

The second tier entails not only raising the legal age to purchase tobacco and related products from 18 to 21, but also would mandate that retailers possess a license, which could be revoked for any violations, ultimately strengthening the municipality’s muscle in terms of enforcement.

“I generally agree government should remain out of the equation unless they need to be,” Richardson said.

“In this case the FDA, or the federal government, the agency that we’ve relied upon to tell us what’s safe and not safe, has not done anything with vaping products,” he said. “So right now you could go create a vaping product and put whatever in it you want. … The industry has said certain products are nicotine free.

“They’ve tested some of these and say, ‘Well, it’s not nicotine free.’ So, for me, until the FDA steps in to start to regulate some of these products, then I am willing to take a stronger stance to prevent some potentially dangerous products from getting in the hands of our youth,” Richardson said.

According to the mayor, the town of Carbondale may take the path less traveled and raise the age to purchase tobacco and related products to 21 without requiring additional licensing.

The discussion was to continue at the Carbondale Board of Trustees’ regular meeting Tuesday night, but no formal decisions were expected.