Lakewood bans e-cigarette smoking in public places

Public health, pot enforcement concerns behind ban

LAKEWOOD, Colo - The Lakewood city council voted unanimously Monday night to prohibit the use of electronic smoking devices in and around public places, becoming the latest Colorado city to enact an e-cig ban.

Durango and Edgewater already have similar bans in place. Commerce City, Ft. Collins and Golden are considering measures.

The Lakewood ban is modeled after the current restrictions on cigarette smoking, including a 25-foot buffer zone around building entrances. It allows people to smoke on outdoor patios.

City council members heard from people concerned about e-smoking in restaurants and on public transportation.
 
"The odor was drifting into our table, and my teenage children realize people are smoking. Smoking what? What are they smoking?" asked Chamain Brittain, a Lakewood resident who spoke at the meeting.
 
But at E-Cig of Denver, on West Colfax Avenue in Lakewood, the CEO Tim Burgess said the devices can help people quit smoking and should not be treated like cigarettes.

"I think a business should be able to say, 'I want to allow this in my business, and if you don’t want to be around the vapor don’t come in,'" said Burgess.

However, because the devices emit no odors, it is difficult to tell what people are smoking -- a nicotine-based liquid or hash oil -- making it difficult for police to enforce laws against public pot smoking.

City council members were also concerned about public health and second-hand "vaping."
 
"Vapor can be odorless and still be toxic to somebody," said Cindy Baroway, a Lakewood City Council member. "So it’s not the fact that it doesn’t smell that’s the issue. It’s the fact that there’s something in it that is toxic."
 
The Lakewood ban goes into effect in 30 days.
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