Starting today, taking a quick puff on a vape pen in a bar or restaurant could land tokers in trouble.
All vaping will be prohibited in most public places, including bars and restaurants, by a new state law that will take effect today. Vaping is the inhaling of an aerosol from an electronic device that can contain nicotine, flavoring and other chemicals. Sometimes the vape juice can contain THC, a chemical in marijuana responsible for its psychoactive effects.
The new rule passed this spring by the state Legislature updates the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act and is intended to protect residents from second-hand vape aerosol. It may also discourage vaping among young people, according to a news release by the state health department.
Not much is known about the long-term health effects of the aerosol that comes from vaping products, said Alison Reidmohr with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
However, some studies have established that people near secondhand aerosol actually consume some nicotine, she said.
“We can also say that the aerosol contains several potentially harmful chemicals and is not just water vapor. Workers in Colorado have a right to breathe clean air and should not have to choose between breathing potentially harmful chemicals and their paychecks,” Reidmohr said.
Under the new law, local law enforcement can fine the owner, manager or operator of the business where illegal vaping occurs. An individual vaping in a prohibited area can also be fined, Reidmohr said.
The updated regulations also may curb vaping among teenagers in Colorado.
A 2017 survey showed 27% of Colorado teens are vaping, about twice the national average for vaping in that age group.
Across Southwest Colorado, about 34% of high school students report vaping, said Annie Mombourquette, substance-use prevention coordinator for San Juan Basin Public Health, in a written statement.
“The updates to the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act encourage making the healthiest choice the easiest choice when it comes to e-cigarette use. Studies show that youth and young adults who live in communities with strong smoke-free protections are less likely to smoke. This logic also applies to the use of e-cigarettes, JUUL and other electronic nicotine delivery devices,” she said.
The new law also tightens some existing rules for smoking and extends them to vaping.
For example, the distance from a public entrance where people can smoke or vape has been increased from 15 feet to 25 feet.
All hotel and motel rooms in the state and the common areas of assisted-living housing must also be smoke and vape free.
Most vape shops will be exempt from the new laws, but business owners must post a sign stating that nobody under the age of 18 can be allowed in the business, Reidmohr said. The signs must be posted by October.