The Salida City Council convenes their regular meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 4. Among the items on the agenda is a second reading and public hearing on an ordinance that would raise the minimum age to purchase or consume tobacco in Salida.

Tobacco Products (Photo Courtesy of American Association for Respiratory Care)

This ordinance, Ordinance 2020-03, will amend Chapter 6 of the Salida Municipal Code in adding Article VII, address offenses and confirm raising the age to purchase or consume tobacco to 21 years. It will establish the age limit for purchase, possession or consumption to 21 years of age, prohibit the sale of any flavored tobacco product and require a license to sell tobacco products anywhere in the City of Salida.

“Following significant public health concerns expressed across the country on the dangerous and deadly impacts of the consumption of tobacco and nicotine-based products (especially on younger and more vulnerable parts of the population), staff has worked with the Chaffee County Health Department and other interested parties to develop regulations related to the sale, purchase, possession and consumption of vaping devices, tobacco products and flavored nicotine materials,” reads City Administrator Drew Nelson’s comments in the City Council packet.

It continues, “It is staff’s opinion that these modifications to the Salida Municipal Code will reduce access to products that are hazardous to the health, safety and welfare of the community (and youth in particular). These regulations are also in line with the City Council’s goals identified at the August 19, 2019 regular work session and will assist the community’s School Resource Officers in nicotine addiction prevention activities in our schools.”

Age limit now 21 across the US for cigarettes and tobacco products (Photo Courtesy of KREX)

Among those in favor is the Family and Youth Initiative’s Chaffee County Youth Alliance, who have been frequent visitors to the Salida City Council in the last year on several initiatives impacting the lives of youth. Their stated mission: to “[Serve the] community by creating opportunities, removing barriers and allocating resources to cultivate positive relationships and promote youth and family well being.”

Operating as part of FYI, Communities That Care (CTC) is a collaborative approach to prevent youth problem behaviors, including substance abuse and their surrounding factors like parental attitudes and accessibility.

Its representatives spoke in September and October 2019 with the Extraordinary Teen Council (ETC) and  CTC surveys have identified three priority risk factors based on local data. It has developed strategies and action plans based around the strategies and began the implementation of these strategies in September 2019.

The three local priority risk factors identified by CTC include: Availability of substances, early initiation of substance use and parental attitudes and involvement in substance use.

The City Council packet goes on to point out “staff has received little to no feedback from tobacco providers in the City of Salida; however, it should be noted that many previous sellers have already instituted the age restrictions and flavor bans (notably Walmart and Safeway stores). Staff does believe that additional outreach to providers should be pursued between first and second readings of the Ordinance.”