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Jefferson County prohibits electronic-smoking devices in buildings

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By Ramsey Scott

Jeffco has banned electronic cigarettes and similar devices from county buildings.

The addition of electronic smoking devices such as electronic cigarettes and tobacco and marijuana vaporizers to the current ban on smoking tobacco and marijuana is due in part to the increasing popularity of the products, said Deputy County Administrator Kate Newman. 

“It just seems like, with the electronic cigarettes, you see them more and more often. We’ve had several jurors in county court ask if they could smoke them inside,” Newman said. “Our existing policy wasn’t clear on whether they were allowed or not.”

The devices are battery operated and deliver nicotine and other chemicals, like THC from marijuana, in a vapor form. 

While the vapor has no odor, there isn’t enough information on the products yet to understand what harm the vapor could cause others nearby, said Donna Viverette, health education program supervisor for Jeffco Public Health.

“There’s a number of things about the electronic cigarettes that are still being verified via peer-reviewed and scientifically sound studies,” Viverette said. “But the indications are that the vapors emitted are not necessarily absent of harmful components. The extent to which they cause harm isn’t clear yet.”

While the vapor emitted by electronic cigarettes and tobacco vaporizers is odorless, Viverette said several studies have shown the vapors to contain nicotine. Currently, electronic cigarettes and vaporizers, unlike cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, aren’t regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

“One thing that is known is that the vapor does include nicotine, just as if someone is using a marijuana vaporizer, that vapor would contain THC (the primary chemical in marijuana),” Viverette said. “Nicotine is not a benign substance. It’s highly addictive, and as people are using those devices in everyday public settings, it sends a message to young people who would be at a higher risk of picking up a nicotine habit.”

The new policy was approved by the county commissioners at their Feb. 18 meeting. 

 

Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine. Check back at www.columbinecourier.com for updates.