MANITOU SPRINGS — The City of Manitou Springs recently hosted a work session with first responders, school officials, and medical experts to discuss how the city could address the problems associated with teen vaping. Now, an ordinance is moving forward that will ban vaping and tobacco sales to anyone under the age of 21. It's one of the first of it's kind in Southern Colorado.
"I think there's been a lot of discussion primarily around vaping and the near epidemic issues that we have around youth," said Manitou Springs Mayor Ken Jaray.
Recent surveys pegged Colorado as having some of the highest teen vaping rates in the country, especially in the state's rural and mountain communities. In Manitou Springs city leaders made the call Tuesday night to move forward with regulations and restrictions for vaping and tobacco in their city.
"To sell tobacco and vaping products they'd have to be a certain distance, we put in 1000 feet from parks, from school, from places where youths hang out. Existing businesses will be grandfathered so we're not going to close down anybody, but we would require them to restrict sales to anybody under the age of 21 would not be allowed," said Jaray.
Noah Leuer is a local vape shop employee and part of the Rocky Mountain Smoke Free Alliance, an organization made up of folks from the vaping industry working with state leaders on addressing the teen vaping issue. He says regulation like what's moving forward in Manitou Springs is important.
"We're always in support of any policy that gives adults access to a safer alternative and keeps these products out of the hands of kids," said Leuer.
The Manitou Springs vaping ordinance is scheduled for a final reading on January 7th before it officially goes on the books. Members of the Rocky Mountain Smoke Free Alliance expect similar statewide vaping legislation will soon follow in 2020.
"I would guess that in 2020 the State of Colorado will be Tobacco 21," said Leuer.
The expectation is these new vaping and tobacco regulations for Manitou Springs will be in place by February.
Vaping resources and surveys: