New proposed bill could ban vaping in public and indoors

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- State representatives want to ban vaping and electronic cigarettes indoors and in public spaces. The aim is modernizing our current Clean Indoor Air Act.

Although it could have many health benefits, not everyone is happy about it.

"So, it's kind of an epidemic at this point,” said Dave Karisny, Councilmember, City of Fruita.

Vaping and electronic cigarettes are on the rise across the country, especially here in Colorado.

"So in Mesa County, certainly youth vaping is much higher than youth tobacco use and we are worse than the state of Colorado,” said Jeff Kuhr, Executive Director for Mesa County Public Health.

State representatives want to modernize our Clean Indoor Air Act which currently prohibits smoking cigarettes and tobacco inside buildings and in public spaces. They want to add vaping and e-cigarettes to the list.

“We are number one in the nation for youth use of e-cigarettes and vaping. And in 2017, 44 percent of youth indicated that they tried an e-cigarette or vaping and 27 percent of our youth indicate current use,” said Dafna Michaelson Jennet (D), Colorado Representative and Bill Sponsor.

Back in November, former Governor John Hickenlooper created the Colorado Tobacco Prevention Blueprint, outlining the six steps to protect kids and families.

“Electronic cigarettes was a firestorm,” said Kuhr.

Those steps include adding a tax to vaping products similar to tobacco products; require all retailers of vaping products to be licensed; require internet retailers to implement age verification; raise minimum sales age for tobacco and vape products to 21; prohibit the sale of flavored vape products; and finally update the Clean Indoor Air Act.

"I have two teenagers at home, he is exposed to e-cigarettes and vaping use all the time on his school campus and he knows, because we talk a lot about it at home, he knows that there are negative health benefits. And he doesn't want to be exposed to the vapors that are released,” said Rep. Michaelson Jennet.

Fruita already has similar vaping laws that passed five to one late last year.

"What we were attempting to do is create smoke-free, vape free environments for kids and to support healthy lifestyles,” said Karisny.

Not everyone is on board with the idea of banning vape products indoors.

"I personally think it is kind of a bad idea,” said Kaydee Johnson, sales associate with Lizard Lounge.

Vape shops like Lizard Lounge on North Avenue in Grand Junction say it will harm locally owned businesses.

"You have to be blind, or in the pocket of big form of tobacco to not see that this is a better alternative. Smoking and vaping is a completely different experience,” said Johnson.

They say most of their customers need their vaping products to help quit tobacco.

"If they just kind of let off a little bit more, and stopped trying to take such big steps into this industry and actually sat down and talked with people, and real people, not just the head of industries, real people, real customers. They would have their minds blown by people's stories," said Johnson. "I have had a lot of health issues in the past with cigarettes and vaping has completely changed my outlook, my health and my life.”

Lizard Lounge says vaping is better than tobacco cigarettes and can help you ease off them.

The Centers for Disease Control looked at 37 states and found 26 percent of high school students in Colorado vape nicotine. That is twice the national average, and higher than any other state surveyed.

Tobacco use is still the number one cause of preventable death in Colorado and is linked to about 30 percent of all cancers.

The bill in the state legislature, will head to committee later this month and bill sponsors say they hope it will go before the Senate in February.

Fruita Middle School and Mesa County Public Health are holding an informational meeting on January 31 at the school. It’s to help prevent teen vaping. It will start at 6 p.m.

“You know I’ve been working my entire career to try to work with clean indoor air and tobacco use, mostly cigarettes, because of smoking as a carcinogen. And now we are looking at this, and we didn’t address nicotine seriously enough….we are having to kind of reformulate our approach with this from a public health perspective,” said Kuhr.

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