BAYFIELD – The Bayfield Board of Trustees is seeking community input as it considers more restrictive smoking policies.
The Town Board might decide to increase the legal minimum age for buying tobacco or nicotine products to 21 and to prohibit smoking in Bayfield public parks. State legislation from the last legislative session gave statutory towns like Bayfield the authority to make the changes. Although board members support the policy changes, they are asking for public input before finalizing their decision. A meeting to discuss the ordinance and take public comment is set for Nov. 19.
“I want to hear people out because I’ve heard so many different opinions on raising (the age),” said Trustee Ashleigh Tarkington.
The proposed policy, Ordinance 423, says that although smoking rates have declined since the 1960s, cigarette smoking remains one of the biggest public health problems in the United States. The majority of people who smoke start before they are 18.
“In Colorado, like most other states, (cigarette smoking) is the number one cause of preventable death,” the proposed ordinance says.
The board of trustees is mostly in agreement about the more restrictive policies, in part because they would include e-cigarette purchases in its restrictions. Trustees are trying to address the popularity of vaping among teenagers.
In 2018, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released a statement saying Colorado youths are vaping nicotine at twice the national average. Colorado had the highest youth vaping rate out of 37 states in a survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the statement.
“I don’t think we would have pursued this unless it included vaping,” Tarkington said. She expects the board will be able to make a decision on the policy at the Nov. 19 meeting.
Community members have different perspectives on the policy.
Elizabeth vonTauffkirchen, a Forest Lakes resident and nonsmoker, said she doesn’t support smoking among youths. However, she wasn’t sure if the policy change would be effective, since young people are already finding ways to smoke.
One Bayfield student, Malachi Steerman, 16, said he is a nonsmoker and would support the policy change. He has family members who do smoke cigarettes, and he often has a cough when he is around the smoke. He also worries he might be more likely to start the habit because cigarettes are in his environment.
“I’m just sort of used to it,” Steerman said. “It feels like I’m more prone to it.”