County smoking fight may trickle down to Vail | VailDaily.com

County smoking fight may trickle down to Vail

Edward Stoner

VAIL – Chris Smith, a smoker, thinks he should be able to have a cigarette in a bar if the owner allows it.”Restaurants should be able to call their own shots,” the Vail resident said as he sat in West Vail’s Sandbar. “Smokers have rights, too.”

But a county ballot questions will ask voters in November whether that right should be taken away in unincorporated parts Eagle County, such as Eagle-Vail, Beaver Creek and Edwards. Vail officials said they will note the results, but a ‘yes’ vote won’t guarantee action on a town smoking ban.Councilman Farrow Hitt said he will look at the numbers and move forward from there. “If people feel that strongly, it’s something we will definitely look at,” he said.He said he will listen to residents and business owners on the subject. However, he said he personally believes smoking bans should be left up to individual business owners.”It should be (the business owner’s) prerogative,” he said.Councilwoman Kim Ruotolo said she personally “votes with her wallet” by not frequenting smoky establishments. She said that she isn’t inclined to push for or against a smoking ban, but she said she would listen to Vail residents who have an opinion on the issue.Tap Room owner Steve Kaufman also said it should be up to individual businesses to decide if they want a no-smoking environment. “It should be the choice of the business owner,” he said. “It’s not anybody else’s right to decide.”Kaufman said patrons can choose what establishments they frequent – smoking or non-smoking. And, he said, employees are able to choose their workplace, too.Even though Sweet Basil owner Matt Morgan’s restaurant is already non-smoking, he opposes a smoking ban. “It’s not up to the government to decide,” he said. Mayor Rod Slifer said the Town Council has never discussed a smoking ban. He noted many restaurants and bars in Vail already have voluntary smoking bans or restrictions However, he said, he anticipates the council will take a serious look at the results of the ballot question.”If it does pass, Town Council and, I would think, other towns in Eagle County would take a look at whether they should do the same thing,” he said.At the Sandbar, patron Orlando Alarid, a non-smoker, said he would welcome a smoking ban. “I can’t stand the smoke,” he said. “I’m always sneezing when I’m around smokers.”Summit County’s smoking ban applies to enclosed public places, including bars and restaurants. A public place was defined as anywhere the public is permitted or invited.After Summit County voters supported a smoking ban by a 2-to-1 margin in 2003, Summit commissioners enacted a ban in unincorporated parts of the county, and the towns of Silverthorne, Breckenridge, Frisco and Dillon followed suit. Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 604, or estoner@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado