Montrose, CO — City Councilors have approved a pair of changes to the city's Municipal Code prohibiting the use of personal vaporizers in public and underage possession of tobacco and cannabis-related products used in vaporizers. The actions were taken to improve "the health, comfort, and environment of the citizens" of Montrose.
Ordinance 2464 passed unanimously to repeal and replace Chapter 8 of Title 2 of the official code of the city of Montrose regarding smoking in public places. Studies have shown the use of vaporizers in public has grown, and the city's code, until now, did not specifically address vaporizer use.
Ordinance 2465 also passed unanimously repealing and replacing Chapter 6, Title 1 of the official code regarding underage possession of tobacco and cannabis-related products and paraphernalia used in vaporizer devices.
The purpose of the changes is an attempt by the council to prevent area youth from becoming addicted to nicotine while discouraging the use of electronic cigarettes altogether. Both ordinances were passed on second reading.
The city has an existing ordinance prohibiting the use of tobacco in public places by anyone under the age of 18. The change in the city code to include vaping will take effect March 1.
Vaping is characterized by the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, or vapor, that is produced by an e-cigarette or other similar electronic nicotine delivery system. Most commonly the user will inhale and exhale large plumes of vapor, which can contain nicotine and other chemicals.
Electronic cigarettes, vape pens, electronic hookahs, vaporizers, and JUULs are the most common Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems, or ENDS. Users can also replace nicotine with cannabis-related products in these devices.
Vapor products are now the second most used substances among Colorado high school students behind alcohol, according to a 2017 Healthy Kids Colorado survey. The survey sampled approximately 56,000 youth from 190 randomly selected middle and high schools statewide.
Statewide the use of e-cigarettes is around 27 percent, according to the survey. The results showed 13 of Colorado's 64 counties, (mostly on the Western Slope), have the highest uses of e-cigarettes. Montrose County was one of the 13 counties highlighted in the data.
In Montrose County, the use of e-cigarettes is between 36 and 40 percent, according to the study. Montrose County sits within Region 10, which also includes Delta, Ouray, San Miguel, Gunnison and Hinsdale counties. Region 10 is described as one of the highest areas of e-cigarette usage in the state, according to the study.
The City Council has joined the Montrose County School District RE-1J in educating the public about the dangers of e-cigarettes.
Montrose City Attorney Stephen Alcorn said he credits the number of parents, and other community members, who have come forward to push for the ordinance.
“We have to thank the community for driving this,” Alcorn said Tuesday.
In November the council heard from Mary Boyers, a Montrose High School guidance counselor who explained, using the survey data, that Montrose is "very much in the midst of a crisis with our teenagers and their use of substances which are dangerous to them."
"Teen brains are particularly susceptible to the addictive nature of nicotine," Boyers said.
Boyers said the concern was not just about a teenager's lungs that can consume huge amounts of chemical-infused smoke, but also with the addictive nature of nicotine.
A single cartridge of "e-juice," the substance used in the vaporizer brand JUUL for example, can contain twice as much nicotine, 30-35 milligrams, as a pack of cigarettes. The Healthy Kids Colorado survey found it was easy for 56 percent of kids to obtain cigarettes, and 58 percent said it was easier to obtain e-cigarettes.
"What we are saying is: where you can’t smoke, you can’t vape," Alcorn explained. "Where you can smoke, you can vape."
Councilors agreed that an effective date of March 1 would give residents ample time to prepare for the change.
Montrose Police Chief Blain Hall said the period after passage would give school resource officers time to educate students about the ban and enforcement procedures.
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