Columbia Bans Vaping in Bars and Restaurants
Following discussions and negotiations lasting several months, the City Council of Colombia has adopted a comprehensive update of the No Smoking Regulation. The consumption of electronic cigarettes is now prohibited in places like restaurants and bars, just like the consumption of classic tobacco cigarettes.
The new ruling was adopted unanimously on 7 May 2019, following debates on tightening the ban on smoking since the beginning of the year. The last law on the no-smoking policy was adopted in 2006.
The consumption of e-cigarettes—such as well-known devices sold by Juul— has increased drastically over the last few years with young people in particular becoming quite fond of them.
Smoking and Vaping Prohibited in Public AreasThe newly adopted regulation provides a definition of smoking as "the inhalation, exhalation, the burning or carrying a heated or burning cigarette, cigar, pipe, water pipe or other burning or heated tobacco or any other plant product or any liquid or substances in all forms, which is intended to be inhaled.” The ban also includes the use of an electronic device that generates vapour or aerosol. Vaping and smoking are banned from places of work and prohibited in all municipal facilities.
The Free Times newspaper told city council Duvall that the newly adopted law applies to all public areas of the city. For example, vaping is not permitted during public events outdoor. This applies, for example, to the Hip-Hop Family Day concert, which takes place every year, as well as the famous Soda City Market.
The politician suggested that there were already unwritten rules in place, with many not smoking around certain areas and in certain towns. This is true for Soda City. Smoking was not forbidden there in the past, but over time it had become a habit not to smoke there. Now, by law, it is not possible to smoke or vape anymore.
The new ban on smoking also applies to the hotels of the city. While smoking was previously permitted in 25% of rooms, it is now prohibited in every single room.
Duval commented that his first proposal in this regard listed 10% of hotel capacity where smoking was allowed. Now the hotel sector has decided to ban smoking altogether. This illustrates how the public sentiment has evolved over the last 15 years.
This new law also includes a fine for violation. Previously, the penalty fee was $25. Now they have established a system that includes a three-tier penalty. The fine for an initial violation is $100, while the second will be sanctioned with a fine of US $200. The third offence will lead to a penalty payment of $500.
The consumption of nicotine-containing liquids by using e-cigarettes has become increasingly popular, especially among teenagers. The SC Department of Health and Environmental Control's South Carolina Youth Tobacco Survey 2017 states that the proportion of adolescents consuming e-cigarettes exceeds those who smoked classic tobacco cigarettes. For the very first time vaping has surpassed the consumption of tobacco cigarettes within this demographic.
Increase in the Consumption of E-Cigarettes in Adolescents
Duvall said that, in particular, the municipal authorities tightened the smoking ban within the city because the number of adolescent consumers of e-cigarettes increased noticeably.
He stated further that the use of e-cigarettes and evaporators had become a massive addiction among adolescents. He also said that it’s time to act considering the growing number of high school students starting to vape.
This year, e-cigarettes and vaping have become a hot topic around the Midlands region. It’s not just about the prohibitions and restrictions the city enacted—it has become a problem for the economy as well.
E-Cigarettes: Companies with Big Influences
As The Post and Courier wrote, Juul is seriously thinking about opening a production site in the Midlands in close proximity to the Columbia Metropolitan Airport. According to government officials, the company may be able to create more than 800 jobs. Activists of the anti-smoking movement are concerned about the possible impact that Juul could exert.
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