Aspen, Colorado, recently became the first city in Colorado to pass an ordinance banning the sale of flavored nicotine products. Enforcement begins on January 1, 2020. The ban includes flavored cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes, vape pens and chewing tobacco. The Aspen City Council passed the ordinance approving the ban in June, increasing the scope of a partial ban enacted May 20.
Council members in Aspen say they based their decision on the fact that youth use of e-cigarettes and tobacco in Aspen are cause for concern. Discussion of the flavor ban was ongoing for months. Support for the ban came from Aspen school principals, the American Heart Association and the Colorado School of Public Health.
Seniors from Aspen High School spoke to the city council, saying flavored tobacco use is common among their peers and classmates, and they believe flavoring is a marketing ploy to get young people addicted to nicotine.
Officials from Pitkin County say they are pursuing similar regulations to Aspen’s, including raising the legal age to buy tobacco to 21 although a flavor ban isn’t on the upcoming list of actions.
It’s not just local authorities and communities who are exploring the potential damage of flavored nicotine products and e-cigarette use among teens. Currently, the U.S. House of Representatives is asking for documents from Juul Labs Inc., as part of an investigation on teen e-cigarette use.
In fall 2018, a Truth Initiative Study published in Tobacco Control found that the younger a teen is, the more likely they are to use Juul. The research showed teens ages 15 to 17 are 16 times more likely to be a Juul user than people ages 25 to 34. Patterns show teens may be doing more than experimenting with Juul, and many are likely regularly using it. Along with Juul, other vape pens popular with young people include KandyPens Rub and Suorin Drop.
Food and Drug Administration representatives have cited currently federal data showing an expected 77% increase in e-cigarette use among high school students compared to the previous year.
Juul has a high nicotine content, and many flavors that are likely appealing to teens, such as fruit medley, which is why it’s especially worrisome to lawmakers and public health officials. Juul provides nicotine delivery that’s up to 2.7 times faster than other e-cigarettes, increasing its addictiveness.
Juul is a company that makes the most popular nicotine vaping device and estimates value the business at $38 billion. The marketing behind Juul indicates the product is meant to help people who smoke cigarettes quit. However, the device became popular with young Americans who may not have been smokers.
There is a push among legislators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel, to raise the nation-wide minimum age for tobacco products to 21.
There is debate regarding Juul, the steps being taken to limit its sale and use, along with other similar products. For example, many adult smokers say e-cigarettes and vaping allowed them to finally quit using cigarettes, which is an accomplishment they celebrate. However, with teens, the vaping product leads to a rapid nicotine addiction that they may have otherwise not developed.
Along with Aspen’s recent ban on flavored tobacco, many cities and states are looking at similar measures to combat teen and youth access to e-cigarettes. For example, San Francisco is moving toward the first complete e-cigarette ban in the nation, pending a vote before it can become law.
Huet, Ellen. “U.S. House Panel Presses Juul in Teen Vaping Investigation.” Bloomberg, June 12, 2019. Accessed June 18, 2019.
Truth Initiative. “New study reveals teens 16 times more likely to use Juul than older age groups.” October 30, 2018. Accessed June 18, 2019.
Maldonado, Samantha. “San Francisco moves closer to nation’s 1st e-cigarette ban.” AP News, June 17, 2019. Accessed June 18, 2019.
Sackariason, Carolyn. “Aspen becomes first city in Colorado to ban the sale of all nicotine products.” Vail Daily, June 12, 2019. Accessed June 20, 2019.