This past spring, Denver City Councilwoman Amanda Sawyer got a call from the principal at her child’s school, who said that her sixth-grader was on a text chain with a group of students, “one of whom was trying to purchase flavored vape products off TikTok and resell it to their friends,” she recalls.
Sawyer started looking into the flavored products. “It doesn’t smell bad in the same way that tobacco does,” says Sawyer. “In their minds, it seems better, healthier. If we can stop our kids from smoking to begin with, then hopefully they won’t turn into adult smokers.”
Now, Sawyer and at-large council rep Debbie Ortega are pushing an ordinance that would ban the sale of flavored tobacco products in Denver, whether designed to be consumed by vaping, chewing or smoking. Menthol cigarettes would also get the ax, Sawyer notes, as would flavored hookah tobacco.
The proposal comes after years of advocacy against flavored tobacco products by such organizations as the American Heart Association, Kaiser Permanente and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
“Whether it’s with flavored e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes or flavored cigars, the tobacco industry has used flavor to hook young people for decades to this deadly addiction,” Ray Estacio, president of the Denver chapter of the American Heart Association, said during a June public comment session before a Denver City Council meeting.