Bar owners doubt the ‘don’t worry’ message |

Bar owners doubt the ‘don’t worry’ message

Scott N. Miller
Shane Macomber/Daily file photoEagle County consultant Shelly Evans talks to frustrated business owners about a smoking ban that will take effect on March 11 in Avon and unicorporated Eagle County.

AVON ” Shelly Evans was looking for smiles. She found a handful of furrowed brows instead.

Evans, who is working for Eagle County on its coming smoking ban, hosted an information session Friday in Avon for owners of bars, restaurants and other businesses affected by the ban.

The county and the Avon Town Council passed identical smoking bans in January. Those laws both take effect March 11.

While the provisions of both laws are set, bar and restaurant owners are still worried about the potential for smoking bans to harm their businesses. They’re especially concerned about the provision that prohibits smoking within 25 of doors, windows and many outdoor areas.

“I don’t know if there’s anyplace in Beaver Creek that’s 25 feet from a door or window,” said Jeff Forbes, owner of the Coyote Cafe.

The Coyote went completely smoke-free inside at the start of this ski season. But customers are still allowed to smoke on the restaurant’s patio, at least until March 11. Losing that outdoor option worries Forbes.

Losing a smoker-friendly patio is a also worry for Maggie Parker, owner of Finnegan’s Wake in Avon.

Both Forbes and Parker worried about how to enforce that limit. That shouldn’t be much of a problem, said the county official who will investigate complaints.

“If someone complains, then it’s a concern,” said Ray Merry, director of the Eagle County Environmental Health Department. “But you can only take your control so far.”

Merry said he’s more interested in compliance with the law than writing tickets, and Eagle County Sheriff Joe Hoy said if a bar customer gets belligerent about smoking, his officers will probably have a more serious case on their hands anyway.

While local officials aren’t particularly concerned about enforcement, Parker and Forbes are worried that smoking customers may just go somewhere else. Parker is worried customers will go to Vail. Forbes said he’s worried people may go somewhere besides Eagle County for vacations.

“There were concerns there about tourism, and about losing business,” said Laurie Blackwell of Smoke Free Summit county. “People didn’t go somewhere else.”

Even in Dillon ” which put a 10-foot smoke-free zone around doors and windows ” bar and restaurant customers have stayed true to their favorite places, Blackwell said.

Christina Gair, the director of the Eagle River Youth Coalition, said she was in New York when that state passed its smoking ban.

“They didn’t lose any tourism,” Gair said. “People stayed in places longer.”

Complaints about the scope of the local smoking ban may be moot anyway, Blackwell said. With the Colorado Legislature debating a smoking ban for the state, smoking customers won’t have any indoor options anyway, she said.

“It’s the wave of the future,” Evans said.

That argument didn’t do much to persuade Parker.

“Anywhere else in the state won’t have that 25-foot limit,” she said. “A state ban won’t be the same as this one.”

Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14624, or

Vail Daily, Vail Colorado

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