Legislation that would have banned the sale of cigarettes to people younger than 21 died in a House committee on March 19.
The bill received support from those who believe that smoking is a societal ill and who want to see more done to keep …
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The bill received support from those who believe that smoking is a societal ill and who want to see more done to keep cigarettes away from youths.
But the effort fell one vote short of passing the House Finance Committee, on the heels of testimony from witnesses and comments from lawmakers who felt the legislation went too far in dictating decisions that adults usually make for themselves.
"I come down on the side of treating 18- to 20-year-olds as adults," said Rep. Daniel Kagan of Cherry Hills Village, the only Democrat to vote against the bill.
Now, it's legal for peope who are age 18 to purchase cigarettes. The bill would have raised that age to 21, although it would have provided a grandfather clause for people who are 18 when the law would have gone into effect.
In defending the effort, Rep. Beth McCann, D-Denver, a bill sponsor, cited testimony from anti-smoking advocates, who said that smoking-related illnesses cost governments millions of dollars in health spending each year.
"The harm is not to just those who smoke; the harm is to all of us," McCann said.
McCann also said that "the military is taking a pretty aggressive view of smoking," telling committee members that armed forces branches have introduced anti-smoking programs aimed at curbing soldiers' smoking habits.
But Brian Soule, a combat veteran from Colorado Springs, told the committee that he found the bill "insulting." Soule cited the names of soldiers who became war heroes before the age of 21 and asked why lawmakers would question their ability to make decisions for themselves.
"To say that these people cannot make good decisions about what's good for them is pretty insulting to a lot of great Americans," Soule said.
Others who testified in opposition to the bill said that businesses, particularly convenience stores, would be hurt by the legislation.
State revenue would also be affected. The bill's fiscal note indicates that the state would have lost about $925,000 in tobacco tax revenue for the 2014-15 fiscal year, but the revenue losses for the following fiscal year would have been about $3.7 million.
But money isn't the only thing, argued bill supporters.
"There would be a short-term fiscal hit, but in the long term, it will help us," said Rep. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette.
Kagan joined all six Republicans on the House Finance Committee to vote against the bill, many of whom made similar arguments against the legislation.
"We're creating a large case to where most 19- and 20-year-olds don't feel like they're actual adults for a myriad of reasons," said Rep. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson.
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