Ban would snuff out smoking on ski lifts |

Ban would snuff out smoking on ski lifts

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VAIL – Eagle County’s proposed smoking ban goes beyond bars to the wide expanses of Vail and Beaver Creek mountains.The proposed ban would prohibit smoking on or near lift lines and also while skiers and snowboarders are riding lifts. Eagle County’s two ski mountains will apparently join a short list of ski resorts where smoking is curtailed outdoors.Commissioners will probably pass the smoking ban Tuesday, and all lift mazes at Beaver Creek and most at Vail are in unincorporated Eagle County, where the ban takes effect.On Friday afternoon, Avrielle Ragghianti of Atlanta, who was having a cigarette on skis near the Vista Bahn maze, said she should be able to smoke there.”I pay to be on the mountain,” she said. “I can smoke. … I’m not from another country. I should have rights.”Eagle County Commissioner Arn Menconi, a key advocate of the ban, said he wants to prevent second-hand smoke and also set a good example for young people.”Is it really an infringement to not smoke in a lift line?” he said. “I’ve been hearing from a lot of people who smoke who are very happy that we are creating measures that help them stop smoking.”Menconi is also executive director and founder of the Snowboard Outreach Society, a group that uses snowboarding to help mentor at-risk youths.November’s ballot question only asked voters about a smoking ban in enclosed public places. But the county has gone beyond the scope of the ballot question in adding such places as skate parks, event grandstands and lift lines to the proposed ordinance.

Holly Moebius of Vail and Milwaukee, standing near the lift line at the Vista Bahn, said the lift-line smoking ban is a good idea.”I don’t want people smoking in this beautiful environment on this beautiful day,” she said. “No. Get real.”Sami Seeb, a nonsmoking skier from Greenville, N.C., formerly of Avon, also standing at the maze, said the ban is a great thing.”I feel like (smokers) are stealing my mountain air,” she said.Joanne Grimm of Vail, who works part-time as a pass scanner at the Vista Bahn, said she would love to see a smoking ban for lift lines. She said she can often smell cigarette or cigar smoke.”I hate it,” she said. “Stogies come through the lines, cigarettes.”But Emile Gauthier, a snowboarder from Sunset, La., who is a smoker, said the ban is not a good idea and would be too hard to enforce.”They’d lose a lot of customers,” he said.

A ban in MaineBlack Mountain in Maine banned tobacco everywhere within its resort – from the parking lots to the top of the mountain – at the beginning of last season. It was apparently the first resort to adopt a smoking ban.Craig Zurhorst, marketing manager at the resort, said it wanted to address Maine’s problems of obesity and asthma.”We decided the best thing to do was to put the best foot forward and put our money where our mouth is,” he said.Zurhorst said resort workers approach smokers and ask them to stop.”Ninety percent of the time, people are great about it,” he said.Once or twice they’ve had to ask patrons to leave because they don’t comply, he said.Mount Hood Meadows ski resort in Oregon has prohibited skiers from smoking on lift lines for the last six years, said Dave Tragethon, director of marketing.Michael Berry, president of the Lakewood-based trade group National Ski Areas Association, said Black Mountain is the only resort he’s aware of that bans smoking.

“I think the no-smoking trend is a definitive trend and you’ll see it continue more and more and more,” he said. “Whether it’s ski towns or states that pass the legislation, it’s just the way of the future.”Vail Mountain’s Jen Brown said the resort will comply if the ordinance passes.The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and the county’s Department of Environmental Health would enforce the ordinance. Brown said the resort, which would also be subject to fines for violations, hasn’t decided how it may aid enforcement.”We’ve not formulated any specific plans as of yet,” she said. “We’ll have to review the scope of the rule and our ability to facilitate the enforcement of it with our partners at the U.S. Forest Service.”But the effect may be minimal, she said.”Our guests as a general rule are very healthy and outgoing, so in terms of an impact I’m not sure how significant a smoking ban would be for the general population of guests on the mountain,” she said.Vail Mountain already does not permit smoking in buildings on the mountain, Brown said. Beaver Creek’s Christina Schleicher said the resort will be talking with the county about how the ordinance will impact it.The proposed smoking ban only applies to areas that are in unincorporated Eagle County. All of Beaver Creek Mountain is unincorporated. At Vail Mountain, there are several base lifts that would be unaffected by the proposed ordinance because they’re in the town of Vail. Golden Peak lifts, the gondola, Chair 8 and the Cascade lift are in the town, so their lift lines wouldn’t be affected.

========================AT A GLANCEBan languageThe proposed smoking ban would apply to service lines, including everything with 25 feet of them, in unincorporated Eagle County:”‘Service Line’ means any indoor and outdoor line at which one (1) or more persons are waiting for or receiving service of any kind … including … lift ticket lines and chair lift/gondola lines. For purposes of this Ordinance, the term Service Line as it relates to chair lift-gondola lines shall include both the line to embark on a chair lift/gondola and the time spent riding the chair lift/gondola until disembarking.”===========================Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14623, or, Colorado

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