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Posted on: January 29, 2019

Lakewood Passes Ordinance to Keep Tobacco Out of the Hands of Youth

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Jefferson County, Colo. — On Monday, January 28, 2019, the Lakewood City Council unanimously passed a non-cigarette tobacco retailer licensing (NCTRL) ordinance designed to protect youth from tobacco. Tobacco retailer licensing is a proven strategy used to ensure responsible retailing, prevent illegal sales and reduce youth initiation of tobacco. The ordinance requires that any business selling non-cigarette tobacco (including vape) products in the City of Lakewood purchase an annual license. Non-cigarette tobacco includes any tobacco product that is not a cigarette, such as e-cigarettes, chew or spit tobacco, cigars, cigarillos, snus and pipe tobacco. The new ordinance will become effective March 2, 2019, and makes Lakewood the 12th, and largest, community in the state of Colorado to license tobacco retailers.

“I am so proud that our Lakewood community has stepped up to take a bold step, one that’s proven effective, to address the youth vaping health crisis, making us the largest community in Colorado to do so. Together, we can do our part to reverse this alarming trend and help prevent our Lakewood kids from using these risky products,” said Lakewood City Councilmember Dana Gutwein. 

In addition to requiring that tobacco retailers purchase a license, Lakewood’s ordinance further supports youth tobacco prevention by including the following provisions: 

  • Tobacco retail businesses must examine customer identification to confirm that individuals purchasing non-cigarette tobacco products are at least 18 years of age.
  • Minors under the age of 18 are not permitted to sell, stock, retrieve or handle non-cigarette tobacco products.
  • Self-service displays of all tobacco products are prohibited, except for in tobacco businesses with age restrictions for entry.
  • Tobacco retail businesses are prohibited within 500 feet of a youth-oriented facility. 

While fewer youth are smoking cigarettes, the rapidly growing popularity of e-cigarettes has the potential to undo decades of declining youth tobacco use. In Colorado, one third of high school students are currently using at least one form of tobacco — including 14 percent who currently use some form of non-electronic tobacco product (cigarettes, chew or spit tobacco, cigars, cigarillos, etc.) and 27 percent who currently use e-cigarettes. According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, e-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among youth, and current e-cigarette use among high school students nearly doubled from 2017-2018. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has officially declared youth e-cigarette use as an epidemic and the Jefferson County Board of Health has declared it a public health crisis.

Additionally, despite existing legislation which prohibits the sale of tobacco to minors, compliance inspections conducted in Lakewood under the FDA’s authority between 2017-2018 found that 17 percent of tobacco retailers in the City of Lakewood sold tobacco to a minor. According to the 2017 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, over half of Colorado high school students under the age of 18 reported that it is “easy” or “very easy” to get cigarettes/vape products. The NCTRL ordinance is intended to lower these statistics and perceptions.

“Jefferson County Public Health applauds the City of Lakewood for passing this important ordinance making the health of our youth a priority, and setting an example that hopefully other communities will follow,” said Dr. Mark B. Johnson, Executive Director of Jefferson County Public Health.    

The annual license fee paid by retailers will be used to fund administration of the license and strong enforcement, including local compliance checks, to ensure that retailers do not sell non-cigarette tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18. Licensing will also help to identify non-cigarette tobacco retailers that have not previously been identified and require that they comply with the law. Without licensing, authorities do not have a reliable tracking mechanism to know where tobacco is being sold. 

“The City of Lakewood really cares about its citizens, and that’s why they charged us with looking at this. We spent a lot of time and a lot of research looking at the effects of tobacco on our youth. Given all the new tobacco products in the market this really makes sense, and we’ll be the largest city in the state to pass this kind of ordinance,” explained Diane Duffey, Vice Chair of the Lakewood Advisory Commission who has worked on this ordinance since its inception in 2016.

When the ordinance goes into effect, any retailer who wishes to sell non-cigarette tobacco products must obtain a license from the city, and those found in violation of any state or local tobacco-related law could have their license suspended or revoked. 

According to the former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Boris Lushniak, “We are at a historic moment in our fight to end the epidemic of tobacco use that continues to kill more of our citizens than any other preventable cause. The good news is that we know which strategies work best. By applying these strategies more fully and more aggressively, we can move closer to our goal of making the next generation tobacco-free.” 

Jefferson County Public Health, Citizens for a Healthier Lakewood and the Tobacco-Free Jeffco Alliance commend the City of Lakewood for being a leader in tobacco control and for passing a strong ordinance to reduce youth access to tobacco. More information will be available on the City of Lakewood’s Ordinance O-2019-1 in the coming weeks in Section 5.06 of the Lakewood Municipal Code.


About Tobacco-Free Jeffco

The Tobacco-Free Jeffco Alliance continues to work toward reducing the toll of tobacco in our communities through sustainable solutions to the problem of tobacco use and exposure. To learn more about current initiatives and how to get involved, visit www.tobaccofreejeffco.com, email tobaccofree@jeffco.us, or call 303-275-7555.

About Jefferson County Public Health

Public health is what we as a society do collectively to prevent illness and premature death and promote health in our neighborhoods and communities. Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) is committed to promoting and protecting health across the lifespan through prevention, education and partnerships for all people. To learn more about JCPH, visit https://www.jeffco.us/public-health. You can also follow JCPH on Twitter @JeffcoPH, Instagram @JeffcoPH and Facebook @jeffcopublichealth.


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