Youth Tobacco Prevention

Despite gains made in tobacco prevention in years past, tobacco use continues to be the leading cause of preventable death in the United States,1 and far too many youth are still picking up the deadly habit. This page is intended to raise awareness and educate Jefferson County residents about the problem of youth tobacco use and ways to reduce youth access to and use tobacco products.

Effective Strategies to Reduce Youth Access to Tobacco:

  • Tobacco Retailer Licensing:
    • Licensing tobacco retailers can help prevent illegal sales of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and vaping devices, to minors and reduces youth access and use of tobacco.
      • Despite data showing a steady decrease in youth use of cigarettes and some other types of tobacco, the overall rate of youth tobacco use remains steady due to a sharp increase in e-cigarette and cigar use, products that are frequently flavored to attract youth and often illegally sold to minors in the retail setting.
      • 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey 2 data shows that 46% of Colorado high school students have experimented with vaping, 26% are current e-cigarette users, and 38% are current tobacco (including e-cigarette) users.
      • Youth e-cigarette use has been associated with subsequent marijuana use, especially among young adolescents aged 12 to 14 years. Reducing youth access to e-cigarettes may decrease downstream marijuana use.
    • By requiring retailers who sell tobacco products to purchase a license, communities can know exactly where tobacco products are being sold and use licensing as a means to better enforce all tobacco-related laws, including state and federal. This is similar to the licensing laws that apply to alcohol and marijuana retailers.
    • In all but ten Colorado communities, tobacco retailers are not required to have a tobacco license, unlike the license required to sell alcohol. This means that tobacco can be sold by anyone anywhere in most Colorado communities.
    • The Tobacco Control Legal Consortium states that policies to increase and enforce restrictions on illegal sales to minors, such as licensing of tobacco retailers, are essential in preventing youth from using tobacco.11
    • Tobacco retail licensing serves as a means to increase certain youth-specific protections such as prohibiting self-service displays, increasing clerk age to sell tobacco and limiting the number of tobacco retailers located near schools.
    • Communities can even choose to include certain drug paraphernalia, such as pipes and rolling papers, to be covered by a tobacco retail licensing law.
    • View this fact sheet and infographic about tobacco retail licensing.
    • Learn more about licensing from the Public Health Law CenterChangeLab Solutions and The Center for Tobacco Policy and Organizing.
  • Raising Minimum Age to Sell Tobacco:There is also no minimum age limit for those who sell tobacco in Colorado.
    • A 2001 study indicated that sales clerks under the age of 18 are more likely than clerks 18 or older to sell tobacco to minors.12
  • Raising Minimum Age to Purchase Tobacco:View this infographic to learn more about how raising the minimum legal sale age of tobacco to 21 can decrease tobacco initiation and addiction.
  • Smoke-Free Laws:
    • Smoke-free laws have been proven as an effective strategy to reduce youth smoking.13

Communities in Colorado that have Tobacco Licensing Laws:

The City of Lakewood in Jefferson County is currently considering how a tobacco retail license could positively affect their community.  The Citizens for a Healthier Lakewood Coalition has been working hard to advocate for stronger laws in Lakewood to protect youth from tobacco. Visit the coalition’s web page an/or complete the form below to learn more about their efforts!


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