Boise & Garden City

Boise City Council is poised to do to vapers what it did to smokers eight years ago

Escape The Vape: Hall of Justice

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Annoyed by the scent of artificial grape or cotton candy as people vape in your favorite city park or on the Greenbelt? The Boise City Council wants to put a stop to them.

The council voted unanimously Tuesday to prohibit e-cigarettes in parks, on the Greenbelt, and in public places where smoking is prohibited — the same places covered by the smoking ban the council imposed in 2011.

The proposal drew overwhelming support at a public hearing, although one resident was concerned about how the ordinance would be enforced, citing public events she had been to where people had been smoking.

Council member Holli Woodings, who proposed the ordinance, said that when she and her family visit Esther Simplot Park, they often see and smell people vaping.

“It can just be so much,” Woodings said.

The council exempted e-cigarettes from its smoke-free air ordinance eight years ago, Woodings said, because their health effects were not known then. Scientific studies since have shown that the battery-operated devices in some cases can be just as dangerous as smoking. People use e-cigarettes to inhale an aerosol that typically contains nicotine and flavorings.

The owner of Botany Bay, a Lexington, Kentucky smoke shop, explains what the Juul e-cigarette is and why it has recently become so popular.

A memo Woodings wrote said studies also show that the effects e-cigarettes and vaping have on air quality and health are similar to second-hand smoke from traditional cigarettes. A 2018 advisory from the U.S. surgeon general declared e-cigarette use an epidemic.

Proponents say e-cigarettes help people quit smoking.

Tuesday’s vote marked the first reading of the ban, but it will not take effect until the ordinance’s final passing later.

“I do appreciate the comment on enforcement, and we’ll look to increase that especially where young people are,” Mayor David Bieter said at the council meeting. Woodings said the city uses education, not tickets, to encourage people not to smoke.

The original smoking ban was more contested than the update.

“I remember how difficult it was for the city to take (the original clean air) stance, to bring forward the antismoking ordinance,” council member Lisa Sánchez said. “I know for myself it meant that I got to enjoy Downtown establishments more.”

Sánchez said she had lost people important to her early prematurely because of smoking, and she was grateful for the legislation.

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Hayley covers local government for the Idaho Statesman with a primary focus on Boise. Previously, she worked for the Salisbury Daily Times, the Hartford Courant, the Denver Post and McClatchy’s D.C. bureau. Hayley graduated from Ohio University with degrees in journalism and political science.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.