Endgame Training Course

Testimony to Health & Insurance for Colorado HB2022-1064

Testimony from Chris Bostic, Policy Director at ASH
March 16, 2022

Hello Madame Chair and Committee members. Thank you for considering this important bill and for the chance to weigh in. My name is Chris Bostic, and I am the policy director for Action on Smoking and Health, the nation’s oldest anti-tobacco organization. I do not mention our longevity with pride; we should have put ourselves out of business long ago. It’s been over 70 years since we found out for sure that smoking causes disease and death, and yet here we are, losing 5100 Coloradans each year to something that is completely preventable.

This epidemic is caused not by a virus but by an industry. The tobacco industry includes flavors in their products for two reasons: to attract children, and to make it easier for them to get addicted.

For decades, we have worked to end the tobacco epidemic by preventing children from starting smoking, mainly by trying to enforce a minimum age of purchase. It is not working. When the federal government considered raising the minimum age to 21, Altria, makers of Marlboro and part owner of Juul, publicly supported the effort. Why? Because they know it doesn’t matter, and it was a chance to seem responsible while maintaining their ability to addict future generations. Kids are still finding ways to get and get addicted to tobacco products. Eighteen didn’t stop them and 21 isn’t stopping them.

As long as these products are more widely available than milk, kids will get them. But making them less desirable by banning flavors will make a big difference.

The tobacco industry is a predator, and children are their prey. Flavors are the salt lick that makes hunting easy. We owe our kids better.