, 130 tweets, 13 min read Read on Twitter
It's not Déjà vu: It's #Boulder city council night Part 2.

Tonight: Council discussion, vote on tobacco taxes, higher age limit and vaping flavor ban. Here's where we left off: boulderbeat.news/2019/08/17/bou…
Then after that, we'll have council discussion and feedback to staff on Alpine Balsam. No story on that (yet; I'm waiting for tonight) but here's last night's Twitter thread.

Warning: It's long. threadreaderapp.com/thread/1166519…
No public hearings for either of these things: We had those already. Two of the longest ones in recent memory.
What's with the trend of groups wearing a single color when they come to council? Green last night, blue tonight, orange for CU South stuff.
Getting started. Nagle is absent tonight; Carlisle is here.
But Nagle sent in her thoughts. Yates is going to be presenting the ones on tobacco. On Alpine Balsam, she wants to stop the Area Plan process and allow for more public engagement.
We're getting a little overview on sales tax v excise taxes for tobacco. Pros and cons of each.

Pros for sales tax: Everyone pays it.
Con: It happens at point of purchase, which can surprise people. Since council is considering a 40% tax, that could be a big shock.
40% is for non-cigarette products. For combustible cigarettes, Boulder is considering a 15c per cigarette tax, or $3 per pack of 20.
Excise tax pro: It's levied on the wholesaler and charged to the retailer. If they pass it along to customers, it's reflected in the sales price. So less surprise to consumer.

City has experience with this bc of the sugary drinks tax.
Con: Retailers don't *have* to pass along the tax, so it creates confusion. Plus, it may not work as a deterrent if wholesalers, retailers *don't* pass it along to consumers.

Also, it's super complex for the city to do.
Q from Jones: How is the state-level cigarette tax levied?

It's an excise tax; they have list of distributors.
Yates talking about the good ol' days when he worked retail as a teenager in New York and how complicated of a process it was to add sales tax.

Technology has come a long way since then, Bob!
If Boulder went with an excise tax on tobacco products, they'd be the first to go the route.
Aspen, Avon and Basalt all have taxes, but they must be sales tax.
Interesting: Apparently regional retailers, to get around Boulder's sugary drinks tax, have sodas, etc. delivered to other area stores and then secretly bring them into Boulder.

One or two, staff says.
"We do not know how many vaping distributors there are," staff member says. (Sorry, I didn't catch her name.)
Jones: It seems like it would be easiest to do sales tax, with signage (to alert customers to the cost)?
Carr: That would be staff's preference.
Yates: If we make it an excise tax, there's already a state and local sales tax?
Staff: On everything but cigarettes.
Yates: So if we make it an excise tax, it will be a tax on the tax?
In other words, the excise tax would be applied. Let's say it raises the cost of a cigar, say, from $3-$5. Then, that new, higher amount would be subject to sales tax.

Tax on tax.
Council debating requiring signage to alert customers about whatever tax they pass.
Young: We can't mandate where they go; ppl might not see them.
Weaver: Cigarettes are kept behind the counter, so there is a pretty typical place for them to go.
Jones: Can we make it so the signage is in clear view?
Carr: I think so. We have some experience with marijuana. We can legislate by the register, certain size and type.
Carlisle: The idea of the distributor not putting in the actual tax, as with sugary drinks, "troubles me."

"It seems as if sales tax would be most efficient."
State cigarette tax: 84c per pack
OK, we're talking about making taxes comparable between all tobacco products. If Boulder wants to do a tax of $3 per pack of combustible cigarettes, to make other products comparably priced: 43% tax on other tobacco products and something like 83% on e-cigs.
And e-cig products.
Weaver suggesting we follow what Aspen did: $3 per pack of cigs and 40% on other products. (I think; they're talking kind of fast tonight.)
Colorado legislation (which didn't pass) was considering a 62% tax on e-cigarettes and other tobacco products, staff is saying.
OK, so at $2 per pack, other tobacco products would need to be taxed at 21% and e-cigs and vaping products at 61% to achieve cost parity.
$3 per pack = 43% and 83% respectively
$4 per pack = 64% and 104%
The reason they might want to reach parity is so ppl don't switch to cheaper tobacco products.
Oh man, things getting heated in the audience. Council is talking about what kind of warning labels are on products. Tobacco industry folks in the audience are shouting out. One pro-tax mom just told them, "You had your time already. You can't yell."
Yates: This issue came up "quickly and deservedly" bc of a teen vaping issue. "But I don't think we've adequately notified the community there might be a cigarette tax."
These high tax levels will motivate adults to leave Boulder to buy cigarettes. "14-yr-olds can't jump in the car and go to Louisville."

Wants to nix a cigarette tax and wait for the state to act, but go forward on e-cigs.
Brockett agreeing: We moved quickly. A month and a few days. "The vast, vast majority of engagement we've had" is for vaping regulations, not cigarettes.

Suggests a Phase 2 for "additional barriers" on cigarettes.
If state doesn't do anything, we can tackle cigarettes next summer, Brockett says.
Weaver thinks the opposite: go ahead and do it, put pressure on the state "make a statement" and if the state puts a tax on, we'll drop ours.
"I don't mind if ppl drive to L towns. This is not about raising money; it's about health. Adults need our protections as much as kids."
Carlisle agrees. "The tobacco industry doesn't need any breaks from the city of Boulder."
"This should be a closed loop" where there's no cheaper tobacco product to "fall back on," she says. "I think we ought to do what we can now to try and deal with this."
Young agrees with Brockett and Yates. "Our city are pretty big proponents of process. We're sneaking something in on people. It may be right to tax, but I don't think it's good process."
Morzel agrees with Yates, Brockett and Young. "Since I have been on council, process has been really important."

Seconds idea to do a Phase 2 for cigarette taxes.
"Nobody hates Big Tobacco more than I do. It killed my mother. It killed my sister. It robbed my family of loved ones and it robs a lot of people. But we haven't hardly talked about cigarettes and other tobacco products."
Jones is with Sam and Cindy. But with Nagle gone, they're in the minority.

"We're trying to solve a problem. We don't want to transfer the problem."
Nagle agreed with Yates anyway.
He's reading her thoughts now.
Fully supportive of vaping tax but not cigarette tax.

"We'll just deal with vaping tax right now then," Jones says.
The prob with state level is that there are lobbyists, Weaver says. If a tax doesn't get through, I'm going to hold everybody (on council) to their word to bring the cigarette tax back up.
"We have to take this seriously," he says. "We have one of the lowest cigarette taxes in the nation."
"We need to keep our eyes in our community that tobacco products have an equal and high taxation."

If state does $1/pack tax, I want to come back and do $2/pack add-on. If they do 15% on e-cigs, I want to come back and do a 25% add-on.
Carlisle: "If this is such a high priority... the process I understand ... but Boulder stands for health nationally. This is part of it. idk why we'd step back now and not move forward. It's disappointing."
"What's the delay going to make? It's passing responsibility on to the state when we can do it ourselves."
Weaver and Carlisle both used tobacco products for 10 and 20 years, respectively, they said.
Jones bothered that Boulder isn't being a leader on this. If Boulder did a tax, other BoCo towns will look at what it's doing and say "we don't want to be the Amsterdam of Boulder County."

Now debating an amount. Morzel suggests 80%.

Weaver: "I'll support that. I'll also point out that will drive ppl ti cigarettes."
To* cigarettes.
Yates: We've been saying since July 16 (we'll do) 40% tax.
"I feel a little uncomfortable changing the number at the last minute."
Weaver: We can put three different amounts on the ballot and let the voters decide.
"Who are we to stand in the way of voters making a decision?"
Other communities passed these taxes on consent, without a public hearing, Weaver says. "Idk why we wouldn't let the voters make their minds up."
That was his bid for a cigarette tax, too.
Carlisle agreeing.
She's listing all the places council heard from asking for taxes. It's a lot.
"If it doesn't pass at the ballot, give it to the state legislature and see what they can do. But these people, let them speak, please."
That was Carlisle. Big moment of silence following that speech.
From the other council members.
Jones: "83(%) is a big number."
Weaver: "It's a voter decision."
Jones. "It's a voter decision. I just want to pick the right number."
Yates: "Cigarettes have been around for 400 years. It's been a health problem for years. We didn't put it on our work plan. idk why we're suddenly putting a cigarette tax on with no notice to the community when we're talking about teen vaping."
Jones: "So that we do not move teens to cigarettes."
Yates: "Do we have data saying that if we do a 40% tax, we'll move teens to vaping?"
Jones: Idk if we have data, this is a new thing.
Members concerned with process stand firm. Vaping tax will move to ballot; cigarette will not.
Oh, man, Carlisle. "Why is 40% the number we're using? Tom (Carr) did you just make that up?" she asked. SAVAGE!

Carr: I put that in as a placeholder bc it's what other towns were using.
Just a reminder, if voters pass this, it won't implement the tax. Council will still have to do that. The ballot measure will just give the city the authority.
Now talking age limit and flavor ban. Reminder: Flavor ban would allow sale of menthol to continue in 21+ stores (liquor stores, vape shops).
Council unanimous on raising age limit to 21, and limiting the number of e-cig devices that could be sold within 24 hours, and requiring gov't ID for online sales.
There will be debate over the flavor ban. Not consensus on that.
Yates suggests a "sunset" of the menthol exemption so that all flavors are banned after a year.
Jones: Why not just treat them all alike?
Yates: We do have a couple biz in town that all they sell is vaping products. If we do a ban, we're really shutting down those two businesses. At least one is locally owned; has personally guaranteed the lease.
"I'd like to have a little bit of a soft landing."
Brockett: "Open to a discussion on timing, but I do feel we should ban all flavors. I've thought about this a great deal. Public health implications become too severe for us to leave menthol exempted."
"We got an email from Marti Moore, head of OUT Boulder, who talked about LGBTQ community has been particularly targeted by flavors. Asked us to ban all flavors, including menthol." Same for the head of the state NAACP, "based on disproportionate impact on" POC.
Jones clarifies we are talking about all flavored tobacco products, not just vaping.
So this would include menthol cigarettes.
Weaver: If we do this, it's going to mean a lot of Dif products off of shelves that ppl are being accustomed to get, and — not that I care — but chewing tobacco will be most impacted.
Brockett: I'd like to focus on vaping.
Yates: I thought we took out other tobacco products from the ban.
Weaver: Are we pre-empted from banning menthol cigarettes?
Carr correcting: the flavor ban is ONLY for electronic smoking devices and products.
Young: Wouldn't it make more sense to call out nicotine other than tobacco?
Jones: Then you're stopping cessation products.
Jones: Are you capturing stuff with 0 nicotine?
Carr: No.
Jones: I'm not sure that gets us where we want to go. I think we want to ban all flavored vaping.

Man, it's almost like they haven't spent enough time on this.
Jones: Tricky, bc "marijuana is able to be vaped."
Weaver thinks the nicotine language is OK, bc that's the addictive part. Jones agrees. "Fair enough."
So the ban is on all flavored vaping products that deliver nicotine.
Carlisle: "I'm still concerned about the others. Flavors ... they've got the ... it's bad. It's carcinogenic."
Carr: We could add it in.
Jones: But then you're getting into marijuana.
Carlisle: Maybe Carr can figure this out in the intervening time.
Jones: "The thing that's really sinister about nicotine is you get addicted to it and you can't get off."
Brockett: We're focused on teen vaping and the most harmful thing is the effect of nicotine on the teen brain.
Carr: This can be written to exempt marijuana.
Weaver: I think nicotine is the active....
Carr reading the definition of what this covers. It would cover "trace amounts" of nicotine. Like alcohol in non-alcoholic beer.
Carlisle: I think that's correct that even in nicotine free, there's trace amounts.

Groans from the audience.
Weaver: I'm lost.
Jones wrapping up: We're going to ban the sale of all flavored vaping by Jan. 1, so ppl have time to sell their inventory.
Carlisle reading statistics about menthol vape use among youth of color.
Yates: It's the only reason I'm suggesting a sunsetting of the menthol flavor is for the two biz in Boulder.
Jones: "Maybe we should just pause and say we've been talking to the local biz and it's been hard to figure out how to be fair and figure out how to address what feels like a crisis for youth."
Asks for ideas to help biz go out of biz.
Yates: "This is a legal product and we're making it illegal. We're kinda bankrupting them. We shouldn't as a gov't come through and start closing down biz on short notice when they're selling a produce that all of us might find reprehensible but is still legal."
"I'm uncomfortable shutting down biz bc we don't like what they sell."
Carlisle: "This is an emergency. We're talking about young people's lives here."
Brockett: Are ppl good with Jan. 1 implementation date?
Weaver: It's four months. That gives ppl time to sell their inventory.
Flavor ban Jan. 1: No exemption.
Weaver: "I'm not OK with that. I'm OK with exempting menthol until Jan. 1. All the flavored stuff, the candy crush, that stuff all needs to stop now."
So flavors would be banned in 30 days from passage of the ordinance (which will be passed on Sept. 3)
Brockett: I just feel for some of these folks we're throwing out of business. We're running ppl out of biz. A little bit of time seems...
Jones: There's a couple stores that, this is all they sell. Can you really get rid of all your inventory in 30 days?

Someone in the audience says no.
OK, maybe not Sept. 3 for the final vote. It *could* be done by then, but Carr asks for "another week" or so.
Brockett: 21 y.o. age limit goes into place immediately.
Weaver: Do you think there's not 22 y.o. in Boulder whose going to go out and buy a bunch and sell them to younger ppl? "I think ppl will see this as a biz opportunity."
So now we're revisiting the limit of sales in 24 hours....
Yates: You could just go to Louisville.
Jones: I think Louisville will have to take this up soon.
If this wasn't such a serious issue, I'd really enjoy hearing council try to use the terminology while knowing literally nothing about it.
Jones: We're clear on everything but how to help vaping biz transition to another biz model.
"Let's focus on when it goes into affect and if there's some other way to help."
Yates: It's more than inventory. They have leases, employees that need to find new jobs.
Jones suggests that, if you're a 21+ store, flavor ban wouldn't go into affect until Jan. 1
Jones clarifying: Flavor ban going into affect 30 days after passage EXCEPT FOR menthol at 21+ stores, which have until Jan. 1
This will go to second reading on Sept. 3, with final passage two weeks later (Sept. 17). Implementation 30 days after, except for the menthol exemption above.
Council giving final thoughts.
Yates: Not everyone got what they wanted tonight, so I think we managed to annoy everyone in town. We're trying to be fair. I suspect this is not the last word on this topic.
Young: Let's keep metrics on this.
"I don't know if this is going to be the answer."
Weaver: "I'm a little disappointed in what we've done, but it's better than nothing." Commits to bringing back a cigarette tax. "It's going to be silly ... if we don't bring them back to parity. It doesn't make sense."
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