DEAR EDITOR:

In 2019, the Colorado Legislature updated the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act (passed in 2006) to expand protections from secondhand smoke and vapor. As of July 1, vaping will not be allowed in indoor public spaces.

This is great news for Telluride and Coloradoans! Most people don’t know that the Clean Indoor Air Act didn’t include secondhand vape smoke.

Even further, we have discovered third-hand smoke. Third-hand smoke is residual nicotine and other chemicals left on indoor surfaces by tobacco smoke. People are exposed to these chemicals by touching contaminated surfaces or breathing in the off-gassing from these surfaces.

Third-hand smoke may be a culprit in more cancer cases, may damage DNS and residue may react with chemicals to form carcinogens, children have the greatest risk and removing the residue is very hard to do.

Cities are beginning to take action against the youth epidemic. On June 12, Aspen City Council passed an ordinance banning the sale of all flavored nicotine products in the city. The ban includes cigarettes, chewing tobacco, e-cigarettes and vape pens. Aspen is the first city in the state to pass a sales ban of this kind. As the Aspen Times reported, the majority of the council based its decision on the increase in youth vape and tobacco use in the area, which is often tied to flavored tobacco products.

Let’s have a conversation. We can make a difference in teaching our children about the dangers of nicotine and smoke.

Trisha Van Heltebrake

San Miguel County Department of Health and Environment