A second Arapahoe County city is poised to adopt restrictions on public use of vaping devices.
The Greenwood Village City Council is one vote away from adding vaporizers to
its existing ban on smoking in a variety of public and common areas. The move comes after Littletonenacted a ban on smoking and vaping on sidewalks in a portion of its historic downtown area on Jan. 1.
According to a Greenwood Village staff report detailing the vaping ordinance, there are now 14 municipalities in Colorado that restrict where vaporizers — sometimes referred to as electronic cigarettes or e-cigs — can be used. Greenwood Village, should it adopt the ordinance when it appears as part of the City Council's consent agenda on Feb. 1, would join Littleton as the only two Arapahoe County communities that ban vaping in all places where smoking is banned, according to the city's research.
"I think one of the prime movers was the second-hand smoke issue and the large size of the vapor cloud," Mayor Ron Rakowskysaid. "Not that we're saying people can't smoke or do their thing. It's a matter of not getting into other people's space."
Rakowsky said the council voted unanimously in favor of the ordinance on first reading earlier this month. Beyond adding vaping to the city's smoking ban, the ordinance will expand the list of areas smoking and vaping are banned to include public parks and trails, outdoor public plazas, transit waiting areas and outdoor entertainment venues and amphitheaters, including the city-owned Fiddler's Green.
Matt Cohrs, assistant to the Greenwood Village city manager, said that among the concerns was that many vaporizers can be used with marijuana. He said officials were concerned that would lead to more public consumption of marijuana, which is illegal under state law.
"The biggest concern was that we knew that many vaping devices were used for the consumption of marijuana and mask the smell really well," he said. "Sometimes, you shouldn't wait until there is a problem. You need to be proactive."
Debbie Brinkman, mayor pro tem of Littleton, initiated the measure that banned smoking in portions of that city's downtown. She said she included vaping as part of the ban after discussions with the city attorney. Though the health effects of e-cigarette vapor have been disputed, Brinkman said she is not convinced it is harmless, and that's enough for her to seek to limit its impact.
"It's not about those who are smoking — it's about those who don't, and protecting their rights," she said.
Arapahoe County spokeswoman Andrea Rasizer said vaping was added to the existing ban on smoking in county buildings but no further discussions regarding their use have been had by county leaders.
Centennial Mayor Cathy Noon said that while the city adopted an ordinance prohibiting minors from possessing vaping devices, city leaders have not discussed further restricting vaping, though they are keeping an eye on Greenwood Village's rules.
As the number of Colorado communities restricting vaping increases, so does the number of business selling the devices.
Shaune and Sarah Walter opened their second VapeWize store in Centennial's Arapahoe Village Shopping Center, less than a mile outside of Greenwood Village, in August 2015. The couple said three more vape shops have opened within three miles of their store since then.
The Walters, who pride themselves on offering a wide variety of high quality e-juice cartridges for the devices, say they don't mind cities limiting where vaping can occur as long as they allow it to continue within shops like theirs. The couple have a lounge in their store where customers are invited to hang out and try the various types of e-juice so they can be sure they are buying a product they like.
Tobacco retail businesses were specifically excluded from Greenwood Village's rules.
"I myself as a vape user and vape shop owner don't want to be in a movie theater and have some person blowing a big cloud, even though I know what it is and breathe it every day," Shaune Walter said. "As long as customers are allowed to test the products in the shop. Banning that could decimate a business."