Colorado committee kills bill to ban flavored nicotine products

(The Center Square) – A Colorado legislative committee voted to postpone a bill on Tuesday that would ban retailers from selling flavored nicotine and tobacco products.

The Senate Appropriations Committee's 5-2 vote effectively killed House Bill 22-1064 with the 2022 legislative session scheduled to conclude on Wednesday.

HB 22-1064 would have prohibited retailers from selling flavored nicotine or tobacco products in stores. According to the bill’s fiscal note, the legislation would have reduced state revenue by more than $15.7 million next fiscal year and by another $31 million in fiscal year 2024 because of lower nicotine product consumption.

“This is an important bill for the state of Colorado as it relates to the tobacco consumption of our kids,” Sen. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, one of the bill sponsors, said during a committee hearing on Tuesday. “It’s something we can no longer ignore.”

Last summer, Denver City Council passed an ordinance to outlaw the products, but Mayor Michael Hancock vetoed the bill, saying he’d support a more broad and statewide approach.

Colorado lawmakers raised the purchase age for the products to 21 years old in 2020. Voters also passed a ballot measure in 2020 that established taxes on nicotine products and increased taxes on tobacco products, with the revenue going towards preschool programs and other state education funds. The measure was backed by Gov. Jared Polis, who campaigned on expanding early childhood education.

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, questioned whether the bill could meet its goals of reducing teen use of tobacco during the Tuesday committee meeting.

“Twenty years ago, we did away with the Marlboro Man because that was supposedly bringing teens into the tobacco world,” Sonnenberg said. “And then, it wasn’t that long ago, that we doubled and tripled the taxes on cigarettes and tobacco so that teens can’t afford them. But we didn’t see a change after that.”

Fields responded by saying that the bill was intended to “take the flavors out” so that cigarettes and other tobacco products become less attractive to youth users.

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