CHEYENNE – The Cheyenne City Council voted to establish a public smoking ban in 2006. Soon, the council could set its sights on electronic smoking devices.
The council’s Public Services Committee on Tuesday voted 2-0 to recommend an ordinance amendment that would add electronic smoking devices to the list of banned smoking instruments in public places that already includes cigars, cigarettes, pipes, hookahs and water pipes.
The full council is expected to consider the measure during its Monday meeting.
The proposed amendment defines an electronic smoking device as “any device that can be used to deliver aerosolized or vaporized nicotine to the person inhaling from the device, including, but not limited to, an e-cigarette, e-cigar, e-pipe, vape pen or e-hookah.”
“When the original nonsmoking ordinance was put into effect 13 years ago, vaping and e-cigarettes did not exist,” said Councilman Jeff White, who is sponsoring the amendment measure. “This is an attempt to update the ordinance to include that.”
The proposed amendment would also redefine smoking as “inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying any lighted or heated cigar, cigarette, pipe, or any other lighted or heated tobacco, nicotine or other product intended for inhalation, including hookah and marijuana, whether natural or synthetic.”
No amendments are proposed to the list of public places where smoking is banned under the 2006 ordinance.
The ordinance bans smoking in bars, taverns and lounges; restaurants; private clubs; galleries, libraries and museums; areas available and used by the public, both for profit and not for profit; bingo and pull-tab gaming premises; convention facilities; elevators; child and adult care facilities; common areas in apartment buildings, trailer parks, condominiums, nursing homes and other multi-unit residential facilities; performance halls; election polling places; restrooms, lobbies, reception areas and other common-use areas; retail stores; places of meeting or public assembly including school buildings; shopping malls; sports arenas, bowling facilities and city-owned youth athletic facilities; and public transportation.
The ordinance bans smoking within 10 feet of the entrance of public places. Tobacco shops are exempt under the ordinance.
“Prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes in workplaces, including bars, restaurants and casinos, can protect the public by preventing nonusers from being exposed to nicotine and other harmful chemicals in these products,” Jason Mincer, Wyoming government relations director with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, told committee members. “No one should have to choose between their health and their job.”
Brittany Wardle, with Cheyenne Regional Medical Center’s Wyoming Institute of Population Health, brought some statistics to the conversation.
She told committee members that 21.7% of Laramie County adults use tobacco, compared to 17% nationally. In addition, she said 8.5% of the county’s youth use tobacco, compared with 8.1% nationally.
“There’s significant concern within our community regarding youth initiation of electronic smoking devices or vapes,” Wardle said. “In Laramie County, 41% of our high school students have vaped in the last 30 days, and one in four thought vaping posed no health risk to them as a result.”
The law, as passed in 2006, still allows smoking in: private residences that are not day care, adult care, preschool or health-care facilities; hotel and motel rooms designated for smoking; outdoor places of employment, except those expressly exempt from the law; private offices that aren’t open to the public; outdoor patios, provided smoke is prevented from entering the adjoining enclosed area; and private or business vehicles, except those for public transportation.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the e-cigarette aerosol that users breathe from the device and exhale can contain harmful and potentially harmful substances, including nicotine, ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs, flavoring such as diacetyl – a chemical linked to serious lung disease – volatile organic compounds, cancer-causing chemicals and heavy metals such as nickel, tin and lead.
But the CDC also says e-cigarettes have the potential to benefit adult smokers who are not pregnant if used as a complete substitute for regular cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products.
They also say e-cigarettes are not safe for youth, young adults, pregnant women or adults who do not currently use tobacco products.