On Thursday, November 17, 2016, the Edgewater City Council unanimously passed a tobacco retail licensing ordinance designed to prevent illegal sales and reduce youth initiation of tobacco. Tobacco retailer licensing is a proven regulatory tool to ensure responsible retailing and compliance with important tobacco control laws. The ordinance requires that all tobacco retailers in the City of Edgewater purchase an annual license to sell products containing tobacco, nicotine or synthetic nicotine, tobacco-related paraphernalia, and electronic smoking devices (ESDs). Edgewater is the seventh community in the state of Colorado to license tobacco retailers, and the first in the state to include cigarettes in their ordinance.
In addition to requiring that tobacco retailers purchase a license, Edgewater’s ordinance further supports youth tobacco prevention by including the following:
- Tobacco retail businesses must require customer identification to confirm that individuals purchasing tobacco products are at least 18 years of age.
- Minors under the age of 18 are not permitted to sell tobacco products including ESDs.
- Minors under the age of 18 are not permitted inside tobacco retail businesses unless accompanied by a parent or guardian, and the tobacco retail business must post a sign with this information.
- Self-service displays of tobacco products, ESDs and tobacco paraphernalia are prohibited.
Despite existing legislation which prohibits the sale of tobacco to minors, 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey data indicate that two out of three Colorado youth who attempted to buy cigarettes were successful; and almost 60 percent of Colorado high school students under the age of 18 reported that it is easy or very easy to get cigarettes. Compliance inspections conducted under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s authority in Edgewater in 2015 found that two non-liquor tobacco retailers sold tobacco to a minor half of the time. The new tobacco retail licensing ordinance is intended to lower these statistics.
According to data provided by Counter Tools Store Mapper Colorado, there was a 76% average reduction of illegal tobacco sales after licensing was implemented in four Colorado communities. “The unanimous support from Council demonstrates the City’s commitment to protecting youth from the harms of tobacco,” stated Edgewater City Councilmember Laura Keegan.
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 tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18. Licensing will also help to identify 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. Edgewater Council Member Myra Keeble explained, “This new ordinance provides an opportunity to educate tobacco retailers in Edgewater and provide greater oversight in keeping tobacco products out of the hands of Edgewater’s youth.”
The ordinance goes into effect on February 1, 2017. At that time, any retailer found selling tobacco to a minor could have their license to sell 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. The City Council may allow for the payment of a fine in lieu of suspension of a license for all or part of the suspension period.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, “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 and the Tobacco-Free Jeffco Alliance commend the City of Edgewater for being a leader in tobacco control and for passing a strong ordinance to reduce youth access to tobacco. For more information about the City of Edgewater’s Ordinance # 2016 – 20, visit: www.edgewaterco.com.
Jefferson County Public Health 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 303-275-7555.