Many restaurants and bars in Weld County have banned the use of e-cigarettes, owners say, because despite being mostly odorless and smokeless, the water vapor given off by the e-cigarettes is disruptive to other customers.
“Just because they’re smokeless doesn’t mean they don’t affect the people around you,” said Deb Nelson, owner of the Lit’L Bit Bar and Grill in Evans.
But bothering other customers was only one reason Lit’L Bit Bar and Grill placed a ban on e-cigarettes recently.
A customer was caught using an e-cigarette to smoke hash oil by installing a hash oil cartridge into the device. The bar owner found out about it after another customer informed the staff of a marijuana-like smell coming from a customer using a vapor cigarette, Nelson said.
“It just took once” for her to decide to ban vapor cigarettes inside, she said.
“Having a liquor license means you are responsible for everyone,” Nelson said.
Smoking e-cigarettes with hash oil cartridges in public continues to be illegal in Colorado under legal marijuana use laws which prohibit the consumption of marijuana in public, Marijuana Enforcement Division Public Information Officer Julie Postlethwait said.
Since enacting the ban, Nelson said customers have been understanding of the decision and that she has not received complaints about requiring e-cigarette smokers to go out back with tobacco smokers.
While the bar does not actively check for hash oil use in vapor cigarettes, Nelson said customers caught smoking them outside are escorted off of the premises.
“It’s the safest thing to do to protect themselves and others,” said Mike Johnson, who was told he could not smoke his e-cigarette inside the Lit’L Bit while visiting from Salt Lake City.
For other restaurants and bars in Weld, e-cigarette policies vary depending on the business owner’s experience with the customers who use them.
Existing policies range from no policy to strict bans of vapor cigarettes indoors.
The Crvsh Room in Greeley is among the bars that do not have a ban against vapor cigarettes due to the small number of customers that actively use them, managing partner Nate Giska said.
Other Weld restaurants and bars adopted bans to avoid discriminating against traditional tobacco smokers who are not allowed to smoke inside the businesses.
“I find it amazing that people just assume it is OK to pull out and begin to smoke their e-cigs without even asking, but the minute we see them we just ask them to take it outside,” said Toni Patrick, owner of The Tavern at St. Michael’s Square.
While many smokers use vapor cigarettes as an aid to quit tobacco, nearly all models of vapor cigarettes can be adapted to smoke hash oil or cannabis with little to no visible modification, said head grower Tucker Eldridge of Nature’s Herb and Wellness dispensary in Garden City.
Hash oil cartridges used in e-cigarettes are popular among medicinal users because they do not have the smell, waste or odor associated with other methods of smoking marijuana, Eldridge said.
Additionally, hash oil use in e-cigarettes is more popular with medicinal users than it is with recreational users due to the lower THC dosage.
E-cigarette smokers can also purchase cartridges that allow them to smoke marijuana sold in dispensaries, he said.
But Colorado law still prohibits their use in public.
“The marijuana law is very tricky,” Nelson said.
“I find it amazing that people just assume it is OK to pull out and begin to smoke their e-cigs without even asking, but the minute we see them we just ask them to take it outside.
— Toni Patrick, owner of The Tavern at St. Michael’s