Editor's note: Contact7 seeks out audience tips and feedback to help people in need, resolve problems and hold the powerful accountable. If you know of a community need our call center could address, or have a story idea for our investigative team to pursue, please email us at email@example.com or call (720) 462-7777. Find more Contact7 stories here.
ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. -- While Contact7 Investigates found vape and smoke shops across the state saying open despite the state's stay-at-home order mandating they close down to stop the spread of coronavirus, Tri-County Health found even more stores in violation.
Records show the public health agency sent warning letters to 54 different smoke shops.
The biggest violator in the group were Smoker Friendly stores. Nine of its stores were given warning letters which threatened legal action for failure to comply.
Licensed medical and retail dispensaries are classified as critical businesses, according the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), but smoke shops and vape shops were not considered essential.
Colorado's COVID-19 website clearly lists tobacco and vape shops under the "no" category, meaning they were to close under the stay-at-home order.
Tri-County Health extended its stay-at-home order for Adams and Arapahoe County until May 8, but it is now allowing non-critical businesses like vape shops to do curbside delivery with precautions.
Smoke and vape shops letting customers inside are still breaking the rules and should be reported to the county.