Colorado House lawmakers have given a strong bipartisan “yes” to a bill that adds vaping and e-cigarettes to the list of things that can’t be used in most public indoor spaces.
House Bill 1076 cleared the House on a 48-17 vote Thursday and now heads to the Senate.
Republican state Rep. Colin Larson of Littleton, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, noted the Clean Indoor Act was passed a decade ago and that it banned indoor smoking of tobacco in a host of businesses, including restaurants, hotels and hospitals.
Since then, however, electronic smoking devices, known to some as e-cigarettes and to others as ESDs, have exploded in use, including at schools. This new technology is not included in the Clean Indoor Act, he noted.
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, about half of Colorado teens have tried vaping nicotine, and that’s double the national average.
The National Institutes of Health reported last December that vaping use by teens nationwide jumped dramatically between 2017 and 2018, “with 37.3 percent of 12th graders reporting ‘any vaping’ in the past 12 months, compared to just 27.8 percent in 2017.”
The bill would add e-cigarettes to the list of things you can’t smoke in many businesses. That includes a ban on smoking in indoors areas, except for those places exempted by law (cigar bars, for example), regardless of the number of employees and whether or not the business is open to the public.
The bill also would increase the radius between a building and where someone can smoke from 15 to 25 feet. But it would continue to allow use in cigar bars and establishments where smoking is permitted, and that includes those facilities with smoking patios and casinos.
HB 1076 was amended by the House on Wednesday to add new signage requirements regarding minors for vaping and tobacco shops.
It took more than six weeks for the measure to get from its only committee hearing to the House floor, a delay that allowed sponsors to work on amendments addressing concerns by those who use inhalers and other similar devices for medication, and that includes medical marijuana.
During a February committee hearing, Kenny Breeding, who describes himself as a medical marijuana refugee, said the bill would shut down any opportunity for people like him to use vaping to consume medical marijuana anywhere but in the home. That’s important, he said, for those who use medical marijuana for seizures and may need to vape in an emergency situation.
Businesses that want to ban vaping on their premises can already do so, Breeding said, and those who consume cannabis can choose to avoid those businesses.
“We live peaceably with the restrictions already in place,” he told the committee.
Those concerns also raised the possibility that the law could interfere with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The sponsors addressed those concerns with an amendment Wednesday that says the bill is not intended to “inhibit a person’s ability to take medicine using an inhaler or similar device, nor to prevent an employer or business from making reasonable accommodations for the medical needs” of its employees, customers or others, particularly as with regard to the Americans with Disabilities Act.