Aurora City Council rejects smoking, vaping ban at bus, light-rail stops

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AURORA | Smoking and vaping at bus and transit stops will not be a crime in Aurora, like it is in several other cities along the Front Range. A measure to ban the acts failed among Aurora City Council members 3-6 Monday night. 

The measure, which was sponsored by Councilman Charlie Richardson, originally carried a fine of up to $2,650 and up to one year in jail. Richardson attempted to lower that to just a maximum $500 fine with no jail time, but that failed, with council members Bob Roth, Angela Lawson, Crystal Murillo and Nicole Johnston voting against the proposal. 

“It’s a confined space… and I don’t think we should have our smoking activities taking place there,” Richardson said of the bus stops and train platforms throughout the city.

Some members who voted against the measure cited problems with enforcing the proposed law. Lawson said police officers have told her they already have a hefty workload. 

Nancy Rodgers, deputy city attorney, said it was likely there would be few citations from the ordinance, and that officers would first give warnings to people smoking and vaping in banned areas.

Johnston said she didn’t support the ordinance proposal “in the spirit of what’s happening with our fines,” an allusion to the recent sentencing of Elisabeth Epps, who was ordered to jail last week for interfering with police at an Aurora pool party in 2015. 

Many have called Epps’ sentence excessive. 

Murillo said she would have liked to have seen community service as an option for a punishment with the ordinance. An amendment involving those terms was never offered.

Golden, Lakewood, Boulder, Colorado Springs, the 16th Street mall in Denver and Fort Collins all have municipal codes that outlaw smoking at transit stops, according to city documents.

“If Colorado Springs and Boulder can pass something like this, I don’t know why Aurora can’t pass something like this,” Richardson said, highlighting the different sides of the political spectrum the two cities often reside.