It’s currently illegal to smoke cigarettes inside public spaces in Jackson, but vaping is still fair game – though it may not be for long.
Jackson could soon join other Mountain West regions in banning vaping indoors. Town council members are considering the move after residents raised concerns about health risks.
One goal, according to Vice Chair Arne Jorgensen? Make vaping less socially acceptable for youth.
According to the American Heart Association, e-cigarettes can negatively impact the heart and lungs. And, since the products are still so new, the long-term effects are still unknown.
“The technology in vaping is continuing to evolve,” said Jorgensen, “meaning the potency is increasing and the risk to particularly young people getting addicted at a younger age is increasing.”
In a Monday meeting, Jackson town staff told council members they don’t currently have the bandwidth to look into the issue, so the officials put it on a list for future consideration.
An ongoing discussion
This is not the first time the council has considered regulating vaping. In 2020, the town considered an ordinance which could have banned the sale of all flavored vape products.
The impetus for the ban came from the Teton County School District, which went to the county’s Community Prevention Coalition for help.
“Kids were unable to sit through an hour-long class without needing a hit,” said Beverly Shore, the community prevention coordinator for Teton County Public Health.
Representatives from the American Lung Association, Tobacco Free Kids and the American Cancer Society educated councilors about how addictive vaping is for youth, but the officials eventually voted down the ban after hearing pleas from businesses selling vape products.
According to Shore, the situation has only gotten worse since then.
“We have an epidemic,” Shore said. “We have more youth in our community that vape than do not vape.”
Shore said an indoor ban is a step in the right direction.
Enforcing a ban
In the Monday meeting, councilors seemed supportive of discussing such an indoor ban, but they raised questions about enforcement. Vaping devices can be inconspicuous compared to traditional cigarettes.
“With these devices, it’s relatively easy to use it and then essentially it goes away, it goes in our pocket,” Jorgensen told KHOL after the meeting. “You can’t do that with a cigarette.”
Still, Jorgensen — and Shore — said it’s important to limit opportunities for people to vape.
“Anything you can do to bring awareness and to somehow eliminate use of something, it’s going to be beneficial,” said Shore.
According to Jorgensen, the council is slated to check in about the indoor vaping ban at their retreat early next year.