Electronic cigarette use restricted starting July 26

E_Cigs
Electronic or vapor cigarettes have received the same ban as traditional cigarettes in Fort Collins, even though they do not produce an odor like traditional cigarettes. (Photo credit: Eliott Foust)

New Fort Collins electronic cigarette restrictions are an effort to see the electronic alternative trend go up in smoke.

Starting this weekend, e-cigarettes will be banned in all places where traditional cigarettes are.

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This new law is a result of a unanimous decision from Fort Collins City Council on July 15. Included in the new smoking ban are hotel and motel rooms, which can no longer offer smoking rooms starting Jan. 1.

Beth Sowder, neighborhood services manager of Fort Collins, believes it was only a matter of time before e-cigarette users adhered to the same rules as traditional smokers.

“We have come a long way with decreasing exposure to smoking, and e-cigs give the wrong impression,” Sowder said.

The decision was based off an informal poll that gauged the feelings of Fort Collins residents about e-cigarettes. There were 2,100 responses, and 47 percent supported restrictions on e-cigarettes, 30 percent were against restrictions and 22 percent had no opinion.

Factors in the decision to restrict e-cigarette use in public include insufficient evidence regarding safety, complaints about indoor use and confusion about why e-cigarettes are allowed in some areas where traditional cigarettes are not.

Fort Collins is one of a growing list of cities that have instituted a public ban of e-cigarettes. In addition to Fort Collins, bans are in place in Edgewater, Lakewood and Durango, and bans are being considered in Golden, Louisville and Commerce City.

Dave Brendsel, a spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says the department supports city bans.

“There is no evidence so far that e-cigs help people quit smoking,” Brendsel said. “There is not enough known about them yet.”

He said there isn’t enough evidence available yet, and the FDA does not recommend e-cigarettes, so city bans are necessary to protect the safety of the public.

“We want to err on the side of caution,” he said. “Until there is more known about e-cigs, we support city bans.”

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Shane Stringer, e-cigarette user and owner of the local electronic cigarette store Colorado Vapors, believes the new restrictions are not fair and are a result of ignorance about the new technology of electronic cigarettes.

“(E-cigs) get a bad reputation they don’t deserve,” Stringer said. “This ban could scare people away and switching to vaping from traditional cigarettes could effectively save a life.”

Stringer says he has attended city council meetings and believes the new law was passed because of uneducated fear. He spoke with representatives and believes this law was passed without necessary knowledge about the issue.

“If it’s a law, we will obey it,” he said. “We are used to having to go outside. If need be, we will get a petition going, but the evidence will speak for itself.”

Despite the new restrictions, cigarettes and e-cigarettes will continue to be allowed on the CSU campus.

“A lot of students are interested in changing tobacco rules on campus,” said Andrea Coryell, a spokesperson for the Colorado State University Health Network.

“I don’t anticipate changes happening for awhile, but e-cigs will be part of that decision,” she said.

Electronic cigarettes remain unregulated by the FDA, but Brendsel says the FDA is researching the issue and will hopefully release findings in the next six months.

Starting July 26, electronic cigarettes will be banned in all places traditional cigarettes are and will continue to adhere to any new laws regarding traditional cigarette use in Fort Collins.

Collegian Staff Reporter Danny Bishop can be reached at news@collegian.com.