Colorado has taken a dynamic approach to regulating vaping products over the past decade. Here’s a more detailed look at how vape laws have progressed:
Are Vapes Legal in Colorado?
2010-2016: Initial vaping regulations
Between 2010-2016, Colorado’s vaping laws focused on light regulation:
In 2010, Colorado amended its Clean Indoor Air Act to prohibit vaping in indoor areas like restaurants, offices, and bars. This put vaping on par with existing cigarette bans.
In 2013, the Colorado legislature passed bills to begin taxing vapes and nicotine e-liquids as tobacco products. The bills levied a wholesale tax on vape product distributors.
In 2016, Colorado lawmakers passed the first laws directly regulating packaging and labeling of vape products. This included:
- Requiring child-resistant caps on liquid nicotine containers.
- Mandating labels with nicotine content, warnings, and ingredients.
- Banning the use of cartoon characters or sponsorships targeting youth.
A 2016 law also officially prohibited selling any tobacco or vape product to minors under 18. Until then, age limits were left to local governments.
Major regulatory changes from 2019-2021
Starting in 2019, Colorado significantly increased vaping regulations:
In March 2019, Colorado raised the minimum age for purchasing tobacco and vaping products to 21 years old. This aligned with a new federal law.
The Colorado Legislature passed sweeping vape regulations in May 2019, including:
- Banning all vape flavors except tobacco and marijuana. Fruit, candy, mint, and menthol nicotine flavors were prohibited to curb youth vaping.
- Requiring all nicotine vape liquids to be child-resistant without exceptions.
- Creating tobacco retailer licensing for all vape and e-cigarette sellers.
- Allowing only licensed retailers to sell online and prohibiting third-party marketplace sales.
- Levying a special tax on nicotine vaping products.
In November 2019, amid the national outbreak of vaping lung illness EVALI, Colorado temporarily banned all nicotine vape sales. The ban was lifted after 4 months when vitamin E acetate was identified as the likely culprit.
In 2021, Colorado signed a new law increasing fines for underage vape sales up to $15,000. It also began requiring reporting of vaping product ingredients.
Current status as of 2023
Colorado’s vaping laws continue evolving but include strict regulations as of 2023:
- 21 minimum age for all tobacco and nicotine purchases, including vapes.
- Indoor vaping bans for nicotine products in all public spaces, workplaces, transit, etc.
- Flavor ban on all non-tobacco/non-marijuana nicotine vape liquids.
- Child-resistant packaging mandate on nicotine vape liquids.
- Retailer licensing requirement for all vape sellers.
- Tax levied specifically on nicotine vaping products and components.
- Ban on vitamin E acetate as a thinning agent in vape liquids.
Vaping Product Bans in Colorado
While regulated nicotine vaping is permitted, Colorado has instituted total bans on certain product categories:
Banned nicotine vape products
- Non-tobacco/non-menthol flavored nicotine vape juices (fruit, dessert, candy, mint, etc).
- Pre-filled nicotine vape pods and cartridges in flavors besides tobacco and menthol.
- Disposable flavored nicotine vapes.
Banned marijuana vape products
- Marijuana vapes containing vitamin E acetate additives.
- Marijuana vape cartridges over 1 gram or with over 800mg THC.
Banned for all vapes
- Vapes marketed toward children through cartoons, toys, or sweet flavors.
- Vape components containing DEHP, DiBP, or other hazardous “forever chemicals”.
- Vapes making unapproved therapeutic or modified risk claims.
Fines and Penalties in Colorado
Colorado has implemented fines and penalties for violating vaping laws:
- Illegal sales of vapes to minors under 21 incur fines up to $15,000. Retailers face license suspension or revocation.
- Minors face graduated penalties for underage possession like fines up to $200 and tobacco education programs.
- Public vaping in prohibited indoor areas results in fines around $500 per infraction.
- Manufacturing, distributing, or importing banned vape products can lead to criminal charges.
- Unlicensed vape sellers may face up to $500 in fines per violation and be shut down by state regulators.
Public Vaping Restrictions in Colorado
Colorado prohibits vaping of any substance, including nicotine and marijuana, in indoor public spaces like:
- Restaurants, bars, coffee shops
- Retail stores
- Public transit and bus stops
- Entertainment venues such as movie theaters
- Hotels, indoor pools, and common areas
- Enclosed stadiums and arenas
- Lobbies, hallways, and other indoor public domains
Outdoor areas like parks, sidewalks, and trails set their own vaping rules. Most prohibit marijuana but allow tobacco e-cigs.
Workplaces, colleges, hospitals, and multi-unit housing may further restrict vaping via their own policies. Homeowner associations can also limit vaping on properties.
In summary, vaping laws remain complex in Colorado with separate regulations on nicotine and marijuana products. But the state has instituted comprehensive age limits, retail restrictions, bans on certain products, and public vaping prohibitions.
Frequently Asked Questions on Vaping Laws in CO
Q1. Is it completely illegal to buy or use a vape in Colorado under 21?
Yes, Colorado bans all possession of vaping products including e-cigarettes by those under 21. There are graduated fines and penalties for minors caught with vapes.
Q2. Where am I allowed to vape nicotine legally in Colorado?
The only place you can legally vape nicotine products is in private residences or in specifically designated outdoor smoking areas. Indoor public spaces have complete nicotine vaping bans.
Q3. Can I still buy menthol nicotine vape juice in Colorado?
Yes, menthol flavored nicotine e-liquids remain legal for sale at licensed tobacco retailers and vape shops in Colorado. All other flavors besides tobacco and menthol are prohibited.
Q4. Can I bring THC vaping products back to Colorado from other states?
No, it remains illegal to transport marijuana products including THC vapes across state lines even between other recreational states. Only marijuana purchases from licensed Colorado retailers are legal.
Q5. Do vaping laws vary between cities and counties within Colorado?
Most vaping laws are set at the state level but local jurisdictions can implement additional vaping bans, flavor restrictions, or age limits beyond the state minimums. Check local ordinances before vaping.
In summary, vaping laws remain complex but regulated vaping is permitted in Colorado. However nicotine and marijuana vapes face separate restrictions on age limits, approved products, public use, and retail sales.