Boulder changes tobacco age, Fort Collins may follow

Laura Studley

Boulder is taking steps to create a healthier community one JUULpod at a time. Fort Collins may follow in their footsteps with new conversations surrounding tobacco age regulation. 

To take measures to eradicate the vaping trend, the city of Boulder has recently approved new age regulations on tobacco products. Receiving a unanimous vote, Boulder will change the age in which individuals are able to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21. The new age restriction went into effect on Oct. 17. 

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But will Fort Collins follow in their footsteps? 

“As a council, we have had no conversations with regards to tobacco or any additional regulations, so that’s currently not contemplated,” said Fort Collins Mayor Wade Troxell. “I don’t anticipate it, but I’ve been surprised before.”

Though an official conversation has not yet taken place to discuss policy, according to Fort Collins City Manager Darin Atteberry, Larimer County is requesting cities to come together and discuss the age regulation. Atteberry said that he cannot predict an outcome of what the policy would look like, as there has not been a community debate. 

Transitioning discussion to concrete policy takes a while, Troxell said. There needs to be time to fact check and make sure it is relevant to the City of Fort Collins. Discussion by the public is a driver for new regulation, Troxell said.

In Larimer County, Ordinance 98-01 states that the possession of cigarettes and tobacco products by minors is prohibited. The ordinance characterizes the minor age to be 18 years old.  

The Health Department is strongly encouraging action be taken by cities within the county, but the final decision will be left to the individual jurisdiction, Atteberry said.

“Obviously it is a public health issue,” Atteberry said. “Cities primarily, historically, have been about providing infrastructure and safe communities, and I think that when we look at community well-being and overall health, there are a lot of emerging factors that I think cities have been looking at for some time.” 

According to 2018 statistics provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 15.5% of college students vape, in contrast to the 6.1% recorded in 2017. This is among the greatest one-year increase seen from any substance in the history of this survey.

In 2010, research conducted by the Center for Disease Control found that 14 of every 100 adults ages 18 years or older living in the United States smoked cigarettes. Based on this data, approximately 34.3 million adults smoke cigarettes in the U.S. alone.  

The City and county are looking into the health impacts related to vaping, tobacco, smoking and marijuana, Troxell said. Even if Larimer County were to change the tobacco regulations, Fort Collins would not be required to change its policy.

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“If one community chooses a path, and community X chooses an alternative path, I think there’s that flexibility that remains,” Atteberry said.

As of now, there is no date set for a community conversation to discuss the change in the tobacco age. There is no guarantee that there will be a change in regulation. 

Laura Studley can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @laurastudley_.