DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado state lawmakers took the first step Wednesday night towards new regulations of nicotine and tobacco use in Colorado. The House Health and Insurance Committee passed HB20-1001 with a 9-1 vote Wednesday night. Similar to new federal regulations, It would raise the consumption age for tobacco and nicotine to 21 with some additional regulations specific to Colorado.
Colorado currently leads the nation in underage vaping. The overarching goals of HB20-1001 is to get the products out of the hands of kids.
“The statewide licensing is going to be really important. That’s our enforcement mechanism. Obviously the federal government has already implemented increasing the purchase age to 21 and we want to be consistent with that but we need a way of enforcing that and that’s where the licensing mechanism comes into play. If you’re not a good actor, if you mess up, one, we have an enforcement mechanism. Two, if you consistently mess up we have a way you’re not going to be able to sell these products anymore and give them to our kids,” said stat Rep. Kyle Mullica, one of the bill’s sponsors.
While many are in support, some retailers expressed concern Wednesday night over burdensome regulations and licensing fees.
The bill states that after July 1 of 2021, all businesses that sell the products must be licensed with the state. This means retailers would be subject to compliance checks and complaint investigations. The bill also increases the fine for selling to minors — up to $15,000 for repeat offenders.
One big change proponents of the bill are excited about is online regulation.
Currently, there are no real age barriers when it comes to purchasing vaping products online. This bill would make it so consumers could order online but their product would have to be delivered to a licensed retailer. The consumer would have to physically pick it up and show ID for the purchase.
Wednesday night, lawmakers were shown just how easy it is to buy online.
Audrey Rosen, a fourth grader from Coyote Ridge Elementary School in Broomfield, went through the steps with ease. Within minutes, and for not very much money, she demonstrated how easy it can be for a 9-year-old to start vaping.
“I want them to know how dangerous and crazy it is and easy it is for people and kids just to get online and order,” said Rosen.
Rosen doesn’t vape but she has friends who do, and they get their products online.
“All you have do is say ‘Yes I’m 21,’ choose your vaping pod, your flavor and then some websites even ask how much nicotine you want. It’s really easy and then it just comes straight to your door,” she said.
Rosen is seriously concerned her friends will get sick, or even worse. She has been passing out an anti-vaping petition at her school for people to sign but she hopes to do much more for the cause.
Wednesday was her first time providing testimony at the capitol.
“My goal is to make a big change for people,” she said.
It’s a thought shared by the bill’s sponsors.
“I think we see where status quo got us, and that makes us where were one of the worst in the nation when it comes to our teen vaping use. You go and talk to any high school teacher or high schooler, and they’ll tell you it’s all over their schools. We’re starting to see these go all the way down into elementary schools and that’s just unacceptable,” Mullica said. “Status quo wasn’t working and we need to change that and we need to put more barriers in place.”
The bill moves next to the Committee on Finance.