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Youth and Tobacco

Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disability in Denver. Denver youth embody a strong voice in educating the Denver community on the dangers of tobacco use and promoting sustainable change to prevent the initiation of tobacco use.

  • In Denver, youth smoke about 10.8 million packs of cigarettes each year. That's a lot of cigarettes - all smoked by kids who are underage!
  • More than 10,000 people died in Denver from tobacco-related illness between 2006 and 2010.
  • Yet, every year, nearly 5,300 Colorado youth become new daily smokers.

Right now, tobacco retailers don't need a license to sell tobacco in Denver. In fact, only 14 states do not have a tobacco retail license requirement. Colorado is one of them.

  • 48% of all Denver youth, including 68% of Denver 11th graders, say it would be easy for them to get their own cigarettes.
  • In 2008, 60% of underage Colorado smokers who tried to buy tobacco from a store were successful.
  • Between October 2011 and October 2012, 248 tobacco retailers were evaluated for underage sales. 18% of assessed retailers sold to minors!

Licensed to Sell Tobacco

The youth-led Licensed to Sell Tobacco Initiative is working to license Denver tobacco retailers. Many U.S. cities and states require a license to sell tobacco. Multiple Colorado communities have passed local tobacco retail license laws to protect kids from illegal tobacco sales - all unanimously approved by their local city councils or county board of commissioners! The funds generated from the tobacco retail license fee will increase enforcement of existing tobacco laws, thereby reducing illegal sales to minors.

Take action! Share your story with the Denver City Council! Learn more about the Licensed to Sell Tobacco Initiative by visiting their website, YouTube Channel and Facebook page.

Who's Smokin' Who?

To prevent teens from ever starting to smoke, Denver Public Health previously managed a media campaign called "Who's Smokin' Who?" in partnership with KS107.5. In its first year, Denver teens submitted nearly 50 videos telling us why they choose not to smoke. In its third and final year, DJ Chonz asked teens to renew their pledge to live smoke-free. The campaign featured first prize winner Noah who shared his story with other teens about why he decided not to smoke. The campaign ran from 2013 to 2015.

"If that teenage brain is still changing so much, we have to think about what kinds of experiences we want that growing brain to have." - Dr. Jay Giedd, National Institute of Mental Health
Youth Health Contact Information

Contact Us

Maritza Valenzuela
Youth Health Manager

(303) 602-3678

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