BAYFIELD – The Bayfield Board of Trustees this week recommended banning smoking in public parks and raising the legal minimum age for buying tobacco or nicotine products to 21.
Recent Colorado legislation gave towns across the state more authority to change how they regulate the sale and consumption laws for cigarettes, tobacco products or nicotine products, like e-cigarettes. Trustees will vote on a new ordinance, which will include the recommended age and location restrictions, early this fall.
“If you want to buy cigarettes under the age of 21, it’s not in our town,” said Mayor Matt Salka during Tuesday’s Town Board meeting.
The laws came about partially to address the growing popularity of e-cigarettes, especially among teens in Colorado.
In 2018, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released a statement saying Colorado youth are vaping nicotine at twice the national average. Colorado had the highest youth vaping rate out of 37 states in a survey by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the statement said.
People 18 and older can buy cigarettes, tobacco products or nicotine products. House Bill 1033, signed into law in March, gave statutory towns like Bayfield the authority to raise the minimum age to 21.
The Bayfield trustees widely supported including a 21-or-older age restriction in the ordinance.
“Having been a smoker, knowing what it did once upon a time, I’m all for 21 being the age,” said Trustee David Black.
Another bill, HB 1076, also added regulations for e-cigarettes and made smoking regulations more stringent.
The bill amended the Colorado Clean Indoor Act to apply the state smoking restrictions to electronic smoking devices. It increased the non-smoking area around entryways from 15 feet to a minimum of 25 feet and removed exceptions that allowed certain businesses to permit smoking, among other changes.
Other local governments in the state have used the Colorado Indoor Act as a way to ban smoking in public parks, wrote Town Manager Chris La May in a memorandum to the board.
The act gives local authorities the ability to enact, adopt and enforce smoking regulations that are as stringent, if not more so, than the state regulations. Bayfield does not currently have a smoking ban in public parks, La May wrote.
“I’d like to see (a ban) in all the parks,” said Trustee Ashleigh Tarkington.
Most trustees seemed to agree. Their main question was how the ban would be enforced. Enforcement details aren’t finalized, but La May said the town would likely post signs stating the ban and depend on voluntary compliance from park visitors. The Bayfield Marshal’s Office would provide further enforcement if there was an issue.
HB 1033 also allows municipalities to impose their own fees, licenses or taxes on cigarette sales. Through a license requirement, the town could monitor product vendors more closely, and if someone had multiple citations, the town would be able to terminate the license, giving it more leverage, La May wrote in the memorandum.
The board decided not to include new fees or license requirements in the proposed ordinance. Salka said he looked over the cigarette tax revenues and numbers were so low that it wouldn’t be worth imposing a fee. The yearly revenues since 2014 ranged from about $3,700 to $4,900.
The exact date for the vote on the new ordinance will be included in future Town Board agendas, and interested Bayfield residents will be able to participate in a public hearing before the vote.