Frisco man vows to defy smoking ban
SUMMIT COUNTY – Frisco’s proposed smoking ban contains a few exceptions where lighting up would be allowed. Don Peterson’s place of business might not be one of them, but he doesn’t care.
The owner of Summit Gold on Main Street smokes Sundance filtered cigarettes throughout his work day and says he has no intentions of quitting – even when Frisco’s smoking ban goes into effect in June.
He’s not sure his jewelry store even qualifies as a public place, as he has a back room – albeit, an open back room – the public doesn’t typically enter. In there, he has two exhaust fans to clear the air.
“It’s not going to change my lifestyle or my business style,” said Peterson, who has been smoking for 53 years. “If people are offended, that’s tough. I’m going to keep on smoking until it slows me down. And I’ll quit before I follow that crap.”
Jeff Cox is in a similar situation.
Cox, who owns Cecilia’s in Breckenridge, sells cigars to upscale clientele from his humidor in the upper portion of the establishment. The rest of the business – notably the dance floor and seating around it – is smoke-free.
He says he fears what a smoking ban would do to his cigar business – and subsequently that of his bar.
“I expect we’ll lose our humidor,” he said. “If we don’t have the option to sell cigars that can be smoked on premise, I don’t know if I can maintain that space.”
The county approved its ban earlier this month to ban smoking in unincorporated areas of the county beginning in June. Breckenridge, Dillon and Frisco are drafting legislation that would ban smoking in public places, including bars and restaurants.
Cox isn’t sure Cecilia’s wouldn’t be exempt under the new legislation, expected to be adopted in June.
“It depends on the language,” he said. “It might exempt tobacco shops. At the front bar, if I could have a glass wall up with ventilation, and have that as a smoking room, potentially this won’t have such a large effect on our business.”
He believes the town’s proposed ban, like many other changes in town over the years, will make the town bland.
“It will likely just homogenize us to the rest of town,” he said. “We could potentially become no different than our competitors, like Salt Creek or Sherpa and Yeti’s. It would change the face of Cecilia’s to the point we’d become a different bar.
“I’d have to re-evaluate what the business is. The council has stated its preference that it doesn’t want cookie-cutter restaurants to come in, but this legislation (indicates) they want everything to be the same. It’s so representative of the way town is going,” Cox said.
Cecilia’s clientele is, in general, a younger group, but the cigar-smokers tend to be men older than 30 who have disposable income, Cox said. It’s not uncommon to see a couple of them sitting at the bar sipping expensive glasses of Scotch and smoking $40 cigars.
“It’s safe to say they wouldn’t be here without the humidor,” Cox said. “We’re supposed to be a world-class resort, but if we don’t tolerate the cultural standards of our international visitors, if we alienate ourselves from that audience, our bar business will go down. And the T-shirt business will suffer, also.”
Cigar sales only make up 5 percent to 10 percent of sales at Cecilia’s, but they contribute to the lounge atmosphere.
“It’s our identity,” Cox said. “We’re a leisure destination. By dictating to people what leisure activities are acceptable, we alienate a large portion of our audience.”
He also fears what will happen if his smoking patrons are forced to go outdoors. It wasn’t long ago that he faced repercussions from police – and the town council – about noise from the bar.
Cox has worked hard with town officials and police to keep the noise down – something he might not be able to prevent if patrons have to go outside to smoke.
“They had enough influence that two businesses shut down,” he said. “They’re just shifting the burden. First one group of people didn’t like smoke, now another doesn’t like noise; the group that’s more vocal now is the one to get rid of the smoke.”
“I have a great deal of trouble with what they’re doing,” he said. “It should be up to the owners to decide if there should be smoking in their establishment or not. It just makes me so angry that people think they can do this sort of thing.
“I don’t plan to change,” Peterson added. “It’ll probably get me arrested, but I don’t care.”