Democratic state lawmakers set out this year to pass a bill banning the sale of all flavored vaping and nicotine products in Colorado, including menthol cigarettes and wintergreen smokeless tobacco, as a way to curb teen use.
They won’t get it done.
On Tuesday, House Bill 1319 — which sought to impose the blanket ban — was amended to allow age-restricted businesses, ones that must verify that anyone who enters is 21 or older, to continue selling those products.
The amendment would allow most vape shops and Smoker Friendly locations across the state to keep selling flavored tobacco products. However, grocery and convenience stores, would be banned from peddling them. (Liquor stores are seeking guidance from lawmakers are where they fall.)
Why make the change? The original version of House Bill 1319 would have reduced state tax revenues by nearly $40 million, according to an estimate from legislative fiscal analysts. That money, which goes toward health care programs, would have needed to be backfilled from a shrinking state budget, likely meaning cuts to other initiatives.
It turns out that more than 20% of cigarette sales in Colorado are menthols, making them a cash-cow for state tax revenues.
“The impact to tax revenue was going to be really considerable,” said state Rep. Yadira Caraveo, a Thornton Democrat who is leading the push for the measure.
The hope is that by still allowing some stores to sell flavored tobacco products, the measure’s impact on