Correction: The original version of this story reported the overall vote total and the vote total on the amendment proposed Monday night as 8-1 and failed to note that Mayor Marian Orr also voted in opposition both times. The mistake was due to reporter error. The Wyoming Tribune Eagle regrets the error.
CHEYENNE – The Cheyenne City Council voted 7-2 Monday night to approve the second reading of an ordinance amendment adding electronic smoking devices to the list of smoking instruments banned in public places.
Councilman Dicky Shanor and Mayor Marian Orr voted no on the measure. Councilman Ken Esquibel did not attend the meeting.
A third reading and council vote is needed before the amendment can go into effect.
The ordinance approved by council in 2006 already bans cigars, cigarettes, pipes, hookahs and water pipes.
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.”
The proposed amendment would 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.”
The sponsor of the measure, Councilman Jeff White, proposed an additional amendment that would exclude devices designed to deliver prescription medications, such as inhalers. That amendment passed in a 7-2 vote, again with Shanor and Orr voting in opposition.
Several speakers addressed the council on the issue.
Among those opposed to the amendment proposal was Regina Hughes, manager of Straight Line Vapors.
“I think adding vapor products to this ordinance will penalize adult former smokers who are already making a healthier choice to quit smoking,” Hughes said. “Forcing (people who use vapors) to share the same smoking area deflects from the purpose of them switching from smoking to vaping. As a society, we are currently pushing adult vapers to go back to smoking with the laws that are being enacted across the country, as well as at home tonight in this chamber.”
Amy Spieker with CRMC’s Wyoming Institute of Population Health told council members that the environment where people work, learn and play contributes to about 80% of a person’s overall health.
“Smoke-free ordinances are a way to change the environment in which we live,” Spieker said. “We have learned from the study of indoor air laws that changing social norms against smoking increase negative attitudes toward cigarettes. Smoke-free indoor air laws also decrease youth initiation and overall use.”
An unidentified student at Cheyenne’s Carey Junior High School also addressed the council.
“It’s not just public safety we should worry about, but individual safety, as well,” she said. “That’s why it shouldn’t be allowed in restaurants and public places. If kids can’t depend on adults to say vaping is bad, then how are kids going to learn that lesson?”
The ordinance bans smoking within 10 feet of the entrance of public places. Tobacco shops are exempt under the ordinance.
No amendments were proposed to the list of public places where smoking is banned under the 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.
Shanor said some would argue that “there is not the same level of public health risk with second-hand vaping that there is with second-hand smoke.”
“We need to exercise caution when we exert our authority to protect the health of the community through banning something,” Shanor said. “If we are going to consider banning something and interfering with both individual rights and industry in our community, we need to have a well-documented public health risk in front of us. Second, we need to have a narrowly tailored solution to deal with that public health risk. Neither of those factors are met with what is front of us today.”
E-cigarettes are still fairly new, and according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, scientists are still learning about their long-term health effects. But the CDC also says most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which has known negative health effects.
Additionally, e-cigarettes are not currently approved by the FDA as a quit-smoking aid.
“In listening to the comments on this, even the advocates for vaping have said that this is risk reduction,” said Councilman Mark Rinne, speaking for a few moments in his role as a dentist. “They’ve said, ‘It’s probably not healthy, but it’s less harmful than cigarette smoke.’ When I go into a restaurant, we have a healthy environment. We don’t allow smoking in it, so why would we want something that’s maybe not as damaging as smoking, but it’s not necessarily healthy?”
The 2006 ordinance 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.
No amendments are proposed to change areas where smoking is allowed.
In other action
Also during Monday’s meeting, council members voted 9-0 to approve an engineering services agreement with Wilson & Company related to the design of the proposed Reed Avenue Rail Corridor project.
The contract comes at a cost to the city not to exceed $559,729.
Work under the engineering services agreement would include project management associated with the corridor design, coordination of public involvement meetings, topographical surveying, geotechnical investigations and possible environmental remediation, meeting required environmental clearances for federal funding and plan creation, according to a memo to council members from Wes Bay, the city’s deputy engineer.
Funding for this project will come from the 2017 sixth-penny sales tax.
The goal of the project, commissioned by the Cheyenne Metropolitan Planning Organization, is to make the area pedestrian-friendly and attractive to investors in an effort to strengthen the area’s economic stability.
MPO estimates the project will cost around $5.1 million in total design and construction fees. The sixth-penny sales tax extension allocates about $4 million for the project.
The Reed Avenue Rail Corridor stretches from 15th Street on the south end to 24th Street on the north. Anticipated development includes 180,000 square feet of office space, 35,000 square feet of commercial use and 110,000 square feet of mixed-use development.
Proposed improvements include a multi-use pathway that provides Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant accessibility and connectivity; storm sewer mitigation improvements; railway and pedestrian separation by use of modular and removable safety fencing; a restaurant zone; a railroad maintenance access road; and urban design, landscaping and artwork.
In 1909, city leaders granted the Colorado Railroad Company an easement along Reed Avenue. The rail served industrial businesses in the area, and the location was once a successful industrial hub. As preference grew for trucking as a way to move goods, the area began to decline.
BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad currently hold a joint easement at the location. A rail spur, which runs through the corridor, is occasionally used to ship ballast material from a quarry northwest of Cheyenne.
City officials also announced on Monday’s city council agenda that a public hearing on a proposed land exchange between the city, Mariah LLC and chemical manufacturer Dyno Nobel near Belvoir Ranch would take place at 6 p.m. Aug. 26 in the City Council chambers.