A bill, HB 19-1033, which would grant local governments in Colorado the authority to enact their own stricter vaping regulations is sitting on Governor Jared Polis’ desk waiting for his signature.
If HB19-1033 is enacted, municipal and county governments would be authorized to include vaping in their own versions of extra taxes on vapor products, licensing for retailers, and criminalizing possession by minors.
Many would argue that local governments should have the ability to regulate certain things in ways that best serve their communities (and that local governments are incubators for policy on a larger scale). While this may be true for certain issues such as, for example, land use or environmental policy, granting local governments the ability to regulate tobacco and nicotine stricter than state laws is a cynical remnant of the tobacco wars of the 1980s and 90s. In those days, tobacco companies focused their lobbying resources (money) on dominating the conversation in state legislatures. This left local governments as the only places where public health activists could effectively lobby for stricter smoking laws.
Today, people who smoke (and now the vaping community) are demonized to the point that the power has shifted to public health organizations that lobby against anything connected to tobacco and nicotine–even if it’s new, safer, smoke-free products that could save millions of lives. Allowing local governments to impose stricter regulations on safer alternatives to combustible tobacco is part of a larger strategy to create a patchwork of regulation that forces the legislature to take action and adopt stricter laws that deny access to these products uniformly across the state.