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Dillon bans smoking in public

CHRISTINE McMANUS Summit County Correspondent

DILLON – The Dillon Town Council passed a smoking ban Tuesday night that will be similar to the Summit County ban in bars, restaurants and enclosed public places that will begin June 1.

Dillon is the first town of the four in Summit County considering a ban to pass a law against smoking in enclosed public places.

Smoking will be banned in enclosed public places and homes that are used as licensed child-care facilities. Smoking will still be allowed in private clubs, private residences and private vehicles.

But Dillon’s ban also prohibits smoking at the town’s outdoor amphitheater as well as 20 feet outside of the main entrance to any public place.

Mayor Barbara Davis, mayor pro tem Ben Raitano, Councilman Johnny Younger and Councilman Lorin Gardner voted for the ban.

“I firmly believe the role of government is to limit people’s freedom when other people’s health is endangered,” Davis said. “That’s why we have the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency, OSHA to regulate the workplace, the health department to regulate the temperature of food in restaurants and so on.

“We need to protect the health of our citizens. That’s what government does, folks,” Davis continued. “The residents have spoken, let’s pass this.”

Councilmen Mike Smith and Jim Dover voted against the ban. Businesses’ rights to allow smoking in their establishments should not weigh less than public health rights, they said.

Part-time Dillon resident Russell Coombs said the discussion about the erosion of freedom is important.

“If they had voted this down, people could still do what they want,” Coombs said. “There are plenty of smoke-free restaurants here.”

High Mountain Billiards owner Rob Weber, who has attended several council meetings and is against the ban, said 95 percent of the people who support his business are smokers. His pool hall and the bowling alley in town are different businesses than restaurants and bars, Weber said.

“I know I’m going to lose business over this. My business has already dropped because people thought the final approval was Feb. 3,” Weber said. “Time will tell (whether I can stay in business). There’s just not enough support from the nonsmoking population. Smokers go out at night and spend money.”

An American Lung Association representative, Sarah Davis, traveled from Denver to Dillon to speak to the council.

“You have a simple, fair ordinance here. Please also consider 20 years of scientific evidence that secondhand smoke is dangerous,” she said. “Many of us take for granted that our work environment is free from more than 60 carcinogens in secondhand smoke.”

Councilwoman Judee Cathrall, who cast the lone vote against the ban on the first reading of the law a couple weeks ago, was absent. Both Cathrall and Raitano are running for re-election on April 6.

The smoking ban debate is hitting the radar screen of national policy makers and federal judges, Smith said. The conservative attorneys Smith said he spoke with are not sure whether smoking bans will withstand constitutional litmus tests, he said, despite the fact that some cities have had bans for years.

In Silverthorne, meanwhile, town officials have scheduled a series of meetings to begin consideration of an ordinance to ban smoking in public places, including restaurants and bars.

Officials are inviting bar and restaurant owners and managers, SmokeFree Summit representatives and the public to discuss the proposed ordinance at the 6 p.m. Feb. 25 town council meeting.

Discussion will be about a draft ordinance that will be “very similar” to the ordinance adopted by Summit County and those being considered by Breckenridge, Frisco and Dillon, town manager Kevin Batchelder said.

Following the public forum, the town council will schedule the first reading of the ordinance for a meeting in March and will take a final vote on the proposal later that month.

Last fall, Summit County residents voted by a 2 to 1 margin in favor of a public smoking ban in unincorporated parts of the county.


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