Boulder City Council passes Draconian smoking ban. Smell ya later, rights!

Boulder City Council passes Draconian smoking ban. Smell ya later, rights!

CultureFebruary 05, 2015

Remember a few months ago when we told you about how the Boulder City Council was trying to kill your rights by passing a universal smoking ban, even on e-cigarettes and vape pens? Well, kiss those rights goodbye, because those crazy kids passed it. Personal freedom, it’s been nice knowing you.

Now that the smoking ban has passed, Boulder smokers will no longer be able to light up in the downtown business district, in city parks, open space or within 25 feet of bus stops, multi-use paths and entrances to buildings. The only place you can smoke anything is on your own private property and in the center of your suburban cul de sac driveway provided you’re 25 away from any structures. Measuring tape, anyone?

The bill is controversial as hell, because it’s not just cigarette or weed smoke they’ve banned; it’s e-cigarettes and vape pens too, which are widely regarded by the scientific community as being free of health defects and a much safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. Currently, there is only inconclusive scientific evidence that vape pens or e-cigarettes have damaging health effects. Why would Boulder ban something that’s a healthier option for people with addictions?

The city itself doesn’t even know. In their official ordinance proposal document, they admit, "claims about e-cigarette safety or inability to impact bystanders are not yet fully verified."

And! Not only is vaping and e-cigarette smoke healthier; it’s completely non-obtrusive; vape pens and e-cigarettes generate no waste and you can almost never smell them. No one’s running around like a decapitated chicken complaining their neighbor is vaping on the porch like they do with cigarettes and alcohol.

Which begs the question; why is Boulder so interested in exerting such a staunch level of control on its citizens with a ban this far-reaching?

All we can tell is that it’s all part of Boulder’s plan to ban seemingly everything that isn’t spirulina or homeopathic craft kombucha. Their 4/20 witch hunt is just another example of City Council’s curious hatred of safer alternatives to narcotics and alcohol.

But Boulder County Public Health Director Jeff Zayach says its because it gives children the impression that they can smoke nicotine from a vape pen or e-cigarette without any negative side effects, an impression that's currently supported by science. Isn’t it quaint that someone thought of the children? 

… Meanwhile, thousands of adults who are trying to make healthier choices with e-cigarettes and vape pens are left high and dry.

Remarkably, no one came forward to oppose the ban. But, that might be a product of the fact that no one really knows about or cares to vote in municipal midterm elections. Also, it wasn’t up to you. The city bypassed standard voting regulations to pass the bill, and while it passed unanimously amongst them, no one outside the closed doors of their office got to cast a vote. That's about as democratic as a medieval oligarchy.

Obviously, the problem here isn’t that Boulder is trying to look out for the health of its citizens by banning smoking. That’s a caring, thoughtful concept. The problems lie in the extent of the ban, how they plan on enforcing it, and the repercussions of it, the least of which is an increased fear of and animosity towards police, who are now responsible for ticketing people for the most menial of offenses. Meanwhile, Boulder's real crime rates like rape and theft are higher than the national average, but City Council so far has no plans to address that. Just real threats to society like your morning e-cigarette break.

In the official proposed city ordinance document, the city even acknowledges that implementing the ban "might not be enforceable given police staffing realities. The same document also mentions that it might make Boulder seem "intolerant, inclusive, and not welcoming," and that it might be taken as targeting the "transient or homeless population."

But, on the bright side, city officials said enforcement would start with warnings and signage, and they won't start ticketing you until May. Great!

The Draconian bill makes Boulder one of the strictest personal right constrictors in the nation, and is proof how far the government can go to regulate your own bodily processes in the name of decorum. Even France, which now has the world’s toughest anti smoking laws, doesn’t ban e-cigarettes and vaping in outdoor public spaces other than on public transport or playgrounds.

Boulder, it seems, is no longer a place of personal freedom as it once was in the Ginsberg/Burroughs days. Today, it’s more 1984 than it was in 1984. And we threw out all our '80s leg warmers and shoulder pad neon jumpsuits, so we're over here like ... ?!