DENVER (CBS4)– According to a survey by the University of Colorado, more than half of Coloradans said they’ve had to “put up with” someone smoking around them in public places. Now that will be fewer instances with a new law.
Since 2006, the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act has protected many from the harms of secondhand smoke. The most recent update recognizes the emergence of other products not previously covered under that law: e-cigarettes or vaping.
As of July 1, the use of electronic cigarettes is prohibited inside public places in Colorado. The indoor vaping ban includes bars and restaurants. All hotel rooms and the common areas of assisted living facilities will also be smoke and vape-free.
People will now have to stand at least 25 feet from entrances while smoking or vaping. According to the survey, doorways to buildings are the most common places Coloradans report being exposed to secondhand smoke.
“I don’t want to have to worry about the aerosol from secondhand e-cigs affecting my health, my family’s health and my developing baby,” said Dr. Valerie Curtis, a volunteer advocate for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, “They’re making a choice for me that I haven’t made for myself.”
Public health officials say the new law will protect more people from secondhand exposure and discourage teenagers from using e-cigarettes. A recent study found 27% of minors in Colorado use the devices. In November 2018, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said Colorado teenagers vape or use e-cigarettes more than any other state.
“When I was in high school, there was no such thing as vaping. Cigarettes were on their way out. Nicotine addiction was looking like a thing of the past,” said Rep. Colin Larson, a Republican representing Jefferson County, “The perception that these are not as harmful for you as cigarettes is pervasive among the kids.”
Larson and Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet introduced House Bill 19-1076 to amend the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act in January. It passed the state Legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis.
People caught smoking or vaping in prohibited areas can face fines up to $500, but clean air advocates hope Coloradans hold each other accountable and stop the epidemic together.
“It’s up to us to make sure that this perception of e-cigs being safe and normal doesn’t continue,” said Curtis.
Exemptions to the indoor vaping ban include cigar bars, tobacco and vape shops that meet certain requirements. Marijuana tasting rooms that meet certain requirements can allow smoking and vaping of marijuana only.