Council does not overturn flavored tobacco ban veto

David Heitz
Or Hakim/Unsplash

An effort by the Denver City Council to override Mayor Michael Hancock’s veto of a bill banning the sale of flavored tobacco in the city has failed.

The City Council last week approved a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco. The bill exempts hand-rolled cigars, hookah and pipe tobacco.

But Mayor Michael Hancock, in only the second time in three terms, vetoed the bill. For the council to overturn the veto, nine affirmative votes were needed. Only seven were cast at Monday’s City Council meeting.

Council President Stacie Gilmore, who voted no last week, was absent this week. Councilman Jolon Clark, who supported the ban last week, did not support overturning the veto. Also voting no were council members Kendra Black, Kevin Flynn, and Chris Herndon.

Council member pens poem about mayor’s veto

Councilman Chris Hinds read a short poem about the mayor’s veto. “At first he nixed cute dogs,” Hinds said. “Now he’s nixed our dialogues.”

Hinds was referring to Hancock’s only other veto. That was for a bill that would have ended a ban on certain dog breeds, such as pit bulls.

Councilwomen Amanda Sawyer and Debbie Ortega drafted the flavored tobacco ban. Some people said the ban discriminated against people of color because it outlawed menthol cigarettes. Others said the ban was elitist because hookah, pipe tobacco and hand-rolled cigars were exempted.

Keeping vapes, menthol cigarettes out of kids’ hands

The idea behind the ban was to keep vape products out of children’s hands. Vaping has become an epidemic in Colorado among teens, public health experts testified during public meetings.

“Do we want to let (the veto) stand in the name of profit?” Sawyer asked her colleagues, adding the legislation has the support of 100 organizations.

She said the mayor showed leadership and brought back the mask mandate recently even though Gov. Jared Polis opposed it. “Denver did it first,” she said, nothing that Denver could lead the way on a flavored tobacco ban, too.

But those who voted against the ban said it would hurt small businesses. They also said children still would be able to obtain vapes and menthol cigarettes. The items still would be for sale right over Denver’s borders.

For that reason, Hancock wants to use a regional or statewide approach to banning flavored tobacco, he said.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at local newspapers in Los Angeles, Detroit, and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am living proof that people can rebound from mental illness with proper treatment, even after experiencing homelessness. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living here.

Denver, CO

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