Monday, February 11, 2008


Bill to stop underage smoking
passes with strong bipartisan support

Today the Senate State Affairs Committee unanimously passed Senate Bill 88, sponsored by Sen. Ron Tupa (D-Boulder), to close a loophole in law and make it illegal for minors to possess or use tobacco products.

Currently, Colorado law only prohibits the sale and distribution of tobacco products to people younger than 18 years old. Colorado was one of 15 states to not have that law.

“This bill is a long overdue change that closes Colorado’s ‘teen nicotine’ loophole,” Tupa said. “No longer will anyone younger than age 18 years old be able to legally use and posses tobacco products. This goes a long way toward reducing the incidence of teens picking up this dangerous, if not, deadly habit.”

Ninety percent of tobacco users pick up the habit before age 18. This bill will help keep our children safe and will ultimately save taxpayer dollars in long-term health costs.

About 92,000 youth smokers 17 years old and younger are expected to die prematurely as a result of tobacco use. For every person who dies from tobacco, another 20 suffer with at least one serious tobacco-related illness.

For the first time ever it requires a retailer to ask for an identification card if the purchaser looks younger than 30 years old. According to testimony from Jodi Radke with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, 54 percent of teens were not asked for identification before purchasing tobacco products.

The bill moves to the full Senate next for consideration.