Colorado Repeals Decades-Old State Law that Blocked City and County Efforts to Combat Tobacco Use

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
March 29, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The state of Colorado has taken a long-overdue step to protect public health and boost the fight against tobacco by repealing a state law that made it much harder for cities and counties to enact their own tobacco prevention measures – including raising the tobacco sale age to 21, increasing cigarette taxes and requiring licensure of cigarette retailers. This harmful language preempting local laws has been in state statute since the early 1970s, and the tobacco industry has fought for decades to prevent its removal.

We applaud and thank the lawmakers who have taken this landmark step forward to ensure Colorado localities can take action to protect kids from tobacco addiction and save lives. The new law – HB 19-1033 – lets cities (once again) and counties (for the first time) include cigarettes in many tobacco control regulatory policies. Gov. Jared Polis signed the bill into law today.

The new law allows localities to raise the age of sale for tobacco products to 21 and to tax and regulate tobacco products. It removes many of the financial penalties that Colorado communities previously faced when they tried to tax or regulate tobacco products.

Preemption measures have long been a favored tobacco industry tactic for blocking effective local action to reduce tobacco use, which is the nation’s No. 1 cause of preventable death. By repealing preemption, Colorado is setting a great example for other states to repeal similar laws and oppose the enactment of new ones.