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Colorado Flavor Ban Bill Dies

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It happened again. For the second time in the last three sessions, a bill to regulate flavored nicotine products has died in Colorado’s General Assembly.

The proposal would have allowed a board of county commissioners to ban flavored tobacco and nicotine products. The House Business Affairs & Labor Committee defeated it on a 6-5 vote, according to Colorado Public Radio.

Several lawmakers on the committee voting against the bill cited concerns about its impacts on local businesses, echoing testimony from several vape shop owners who said it would have hurt sales if a county banned flavored vaping and other tobacco products.

“We have a long history of choosing to listen to the tobacco lobby,” said bill sponsor Rep. Elizabeth Velasco, as she appealed to her colleagues before the vote. “I hope that today we can really think about the children and make sure that we do the right thing to make sure that our children don’t have access to these products that have been targeted for them.”

The measure had already passed a Senate committee and the full Senate. As has been seen in prior years, the bill drew intense lobbying, with 141 lobbyists from both sides signing up to voice support, opposition, or neutrality, according to the state’s lobbyist disclosure website.

Tobacco companies like PMI, RJ Reynolds America, and Altria, represented by the lobbying company Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, and industry groups, including the Vapor Technology Association, hired lobbyists in opposition to the legislation.

All the traditional anti-nicotine groups such as Bloomberg, Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund and Kaiser Permanente also hired lobbyists in support.

In 2022, a bill to ban flavored tobacco statewide failed after Gov. Jared Polis said the issue should be handled at the local level.