Coalition of More Than 100 Colorado Community, Education, and Public Health Organizations: Mayor Hancock Sides with Big Tobacco Over Public Health and Denver Kids
City Council Should Override Veto
For Immediate Release: December 10, 2021
Contact: Laura Chapin, LKC Consulting
Flavors Hook Kids Colorado
Denver, CO – Today, a coalition of more than 100 community, education, and public health organizations condemned Mayor Hancock’s veto of an ordinance that passed Denver City Council’s to end the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, in the City and County of Denver. The ordinance passed 8-3 on December 6.
“This veto is bad for public health and bad for our kids,” said Jodi Radke, Regional Director for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Denver has some of the strongest retail regulations and penalties in the country, and yet we still have a teen vaping epidemic. Increasing regulation and penalties is a tobacco industry talking point used to detract and deflect from the public health merits of this policy. There is no excuse for Mayor Hancock vetoing this critical ordinance, siding with Big Tobacco over Denver’s kids and the 100+ organizations who support this policy. ”
She continued, “Denver City Council did constant, good faith outreach and public engagement on this ordinance for more than two years, and heard overwhelmingly from the public they are in favor of keeping flavored tobacco away from kids. More than two thirds of Denver voters support ending the sale of flavored tobacco products. We urge Denver City Council to listen to what the people of Denver want and override the veto.“
In a 2019 statement to Colorado Public Radio, Hancock said he supported eliminating flavored tobacco.
According to the recently released Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, the percent of youth in our state who use e-cigarettes remains high. Among Denver youth, 38.9% responded having ever used an electronic vapor product. The survey also revealed that 20.5% of youth in Denver use e-cigarettes specifically because they are flavored. About 1/2 of youth smokers use menthol cigarettes.
Decades of targeting by the tobacco industry mean menthol cigarettes are also disproportionately used by young people, African Americans, Hispanics and LGBTQ community. Meanwhile, in 2019, more than 1 in 4 Hispanic youth used e-cigarettes in Colorado, a rate that exceeded their white and Black peers.
Supporters of the ordinance include Children’s Hospital, the Denver chapter of the NAACP, Tepeyac Community Health Center, One Colorado, The Colorado Association of Family Physicians, the Center for African American Health, Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, and the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy, and Resource Organization (CLLARO). You can find a complete list of coalition partners on Flavors Hook Kids Denver.
Denver has a history of taking on the tobacco industry. In recent years, the city has instituted measures to curb tobacco use and prevent initiation, including raising the age of sale to 21, expanding smoke-free policies, and funding cessation programs. Flavors have long been a tobacco industry tactic to hook kids, as well as the Black, Hispanic, and LGBTQ communities. This latest measure addresses the root problems of access, initiation, and addiction.
For more information, visit flavorshookkidsdenver.org. Follow on Instagram and Twitter @flavorshookcolo.