Nancy Braden, Health Communications: 303-239-7137
Susan Westhof, Tobacco Prevention: 303-271-5705
Golden, CO – On Thursday, April 26, 2012, the Golden City Council unanimously passed an ordinance requiring that tobacco retailers located in the City of Golden be required to purchase an annual license to sell non-cigarette tobacco products. Non-cigarette tobacco includes products such as chew or spit tobacco, cigars, cigarillos, snus, pipe tobacco, dissolvable tobacco, and electronic cigarettes. The new ordinance will become effective May 8, 2012.
The City of Golden is the fourth community in Colorado to license tobacco retailers in an effort to prevent illegal sales of tobacco to minors. Steamboat Springs, Manitou Springs, and Fountain’s city councils also unanimously passed similar ordinances in 2011. Community coalitions in other Colorado communities such as Aurora and Longmont are also advocating for tobacco licensing ordinances.
“We’re proud the City of Golden is among the first communities in Colorado to further restrict youth access to tobacco products,” said Susan Westhof, the Tobacco Policy Specialist at Jefferson County Public Health. “Golden is doing the right thing for its community and its youth.”
In addition to requiring tobacco retailers to purchase a license, provisions of the ordinance include the following:
- Licensees shall not allow, permit or require any person who is under 18 to sell, stock, retrieve or handle non-cigarette tobacco products.
- Licensees shall not sell or transfer a non-cigarette tobacco product without first checking the customer’s identification to confirm that the recipient is at least the minimum age (18) under state and local law to purchase and possess the non-cigarette tobacco product.
- No minors are permitted in retail tobacco businesses unless accompanied by their parent or guardian, and the licensee must post a warning sign stating this.
- No license shall be issued to authorize non-cigarette product retailing within 500 feet of any public or private elementary, middle, or high school. Non-cigarette tobacco retailers operating lawfully on April 26, 2012 shall be exempt from the 500 foot prohibition.
Despite an existing law prohibiting the sale of tobacco to minors, a 2008 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey found that more than 60 percent of Colorado youth under the age of 18 who attempted to purchase tobacco reported being able to do so, and nearly half of the kids who purchased tobacco illegally say they were not asked to show any proof of age. In fact, four of Golden’s tobacco retailers sold tobacco to a minor during compliance checks that were completed in 2011. This ordinance is intended to help lower these statistics.
Golden City Councilor Bill Fisher stated that, “Licensing is a proven mechanism for decreasing sales of tobacco to our youth, and the unanimous support from Council demonstrates the truly collaborative fashion used to develop this ordinance for Golden.”
The annual license fee paid by retailers will be used to fund administration of the license and stronger enforcement, including local compliance checks, to ensure that retailers do not sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18. Licensing will also help identify tobacco retailers and require that they all be checked for compliance of current law. Currently, authorities do not know exactly where tobacco is sold because there is no reliable tracking mechanism in place.
Councilor Fisher explained that, “This provides Golden a great opportunity to educate our retailers and provide greater oversight in keeping tobacco products out of the hands of Golden's youth.”
Once the ordinance is in effect, a retailer found selling tobacco to a minor could have their license to sell non-cigarette tobacco products suspended for seven days upon first offense. A second offense could constitute a 30-day suspension, and a third offense could lead to revocation of the license.
Mayor Marjorie Sloan remarked that, “The Tobacco Prevention Initiative, the Health is Golden Coalition and the Golden High School Breathe Easy Team did a terrific job of explaining the importance and benefits of the ordinance to City Council and the entire community. Public comment was completely in favor of limiting youth access to tobacco.”
Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death. Nearly 90 percent of adult smokers become addicted to tobacco before the age of 18, and each year in Colorado 5,700 kids under the age of 18 become new daily smokers. The recently released Surgeon General’s report declared tobacco a pediatric epidemic and is charging the nation to make the next generation tobacco-free.
If you would like to view the ordinance, it can be found at the following link: http://bit.ly/JMCazx