A state measure to ban vaping in public spaces could curb teen use in Southwest Colorado.
A revision to the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act would add vaping to existing state prohibitions against smoking tobacco and marijuana in most public spaces and entryways.
Vaping, ingesting nicotine through electronic cigarettes, has been growing in popularity, particularly among youths in recent years.
In Southwest Colorado, 34.2 percent of teens reported vaping, according a 2017 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey. Across Colorado, 27 percent of teens reported vaping, which is about twice the national average.
“A whole bunch of people that weren’t going to get addicted to nicotine are now starting this new behavior,” said Liane Jollon, executive director of San Juan Basin Public Health.
House Bill 1076 is meant to curb underage vaping and limit secondhand exposure to the ultrafine particles containing nicotine and other potentially toxic substances that electronic cigarettes produce, the draft legislation says. Vaping products can contain heavy metals and some of the same cancer-causing chemicals as tobacco, Jollon said.
Banning vaping in public areas could discourage the use of vaping by sending the message that it is a harmful activity, Jollon said.
“This is a tried-and-true public health intervention to encourage people to quit or never take it up,” she said.
Vaping is already prohibited on Durango School District 9-R property along with use of tobacco products, said Julie Popp, district spokeswoman.
Robert Fry, general manager of Vapers Vape Shop, said he doesn’t have a problem with the drafted legislation. Vapers Vape Shops operate in Durango, Farmington and Bloomfield.
Fry said limiting smoking and vaping in public is a matter of respecting other people.
He said he also views vaping among teenagers as a problem.
“I do believe it’s way too easy for kids to get their hands on vape products,” Fry said.
While retailers can ask customers for identification to prove their age, online vape shops cannot control their product in the same way. Underage customers can easily lie about their age online and buy products, he said.
Vaping was developed to help cigarette smokers quit by allowing them to control how much nicotine they ingest, he said. The method has successfully helped people quit, he said.
“We’re not here to get people addicted,” he said.