Just after Christmas, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration raised the nationwide minimum age to buy tobacco and nicotine vaping products to 21. Pitkin County health officials, who had previously sought local regulation to reduce youth tobacco use, are still pressing on with plans to make the same change in the county.
Risa Turetsky, health promotion program administrator for Pitkin County, says the nationwide age change could still be delayed or altered, and changing the purchase age locally would allow the county to regulate tobacco sales on its own terms.
In mid-December, Turetsky and other health officials presented a number of tactics to reduce teen tobacco use to the Board of County Commissioners. She says changing the purchase age would be within the board’s purview and an effective way to keep cigarettes, e-cigarettes and nicotine vapes out of the hands of young people.
“If we have a 15-year-old,” Turetsky said, “they're much more likely to know an 18-year-old who goes to their high school or is in their community than they are to know somebody who's 21 and older. And so it creates this safety buffer for our young kids.”