The Pinedale Town Council has approve an ordinance that bans the sale of flavored vaping products within town limits. The council voted unanimously in favor of the ordinance, despite some members' concerns about the rights of businesses and consumers.
"I have had a couple businesses push back, and we had a couple citizens that were a little upset about it," Pinedale Mayor Matt Murdock said. "But as we explain, we're trying to protect those who are younger and vulnerable."
According to Murdock, the youth vaping problem in Pinedale has gotten so bad that the district middle and high schools had to install vape detectors in their bathrooms. At a state legislative hearing in May, district administrators testified that 70 percent of out-of-school suspensions in Pinedale were for vaping.
Citing one study that suggests 81 percent of youth who use tobacco start with a flavored tobacco product, Murdock said the goal of the ordinance is to prevent teens from developing an addiction.
"We see a large number of our youth being exposed to something that they may not be able to get out of. So I think it's our responsibility to take steps and protect those we can," Murdock said.
Pinedale is the first municipality in Wyoming to pass such an ordinance, and Murdock said other towns and cities have reached out for advice on drafting one of their own. The ordinance includes a "sunset clause," meaning it will expire in one year unless the town council votes to renew it.
"We wanted to respond to the crisis as we perceive it within our community, but we also recognize that there's still a lot of studying that's going on," Murdock said.
The council rejected a resolution that would've required Pinedale businesses to apply for a license to sell vaping products.
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