Minturn jumps on no-smoking train |

Minturn jumps on no-smoking train

J.K. Perry
J.K. Perry/Vail DailyJosh McGee, who lives on Main Street in Minturn, lights up Thursday afternoon. The town will ask voters in November whether smoking should be banned in bars, offices and other public places.

MINTURN – Al Brown took Chili Willy’s no-smoking last July to clear up the smell that got “terrible” when two or three smokers lit up in the small bar portion of his restaurant.”If we had three people in here smoking it was terrible,” said Brown, owner of the Mexican restaurant. “I just looked at it like eventually it’s going to happen everywhere.”Indeed, the Minturn Town Council is asking Minturn residents for the power to ban smoking in public areas, including bars and restaurants. If the measure passes during the municipal election on April 4, council members will then choose whether to enact a ban.Nearly 54 percent of Minturn voters sided with a similar ban in the November election. That ban applied only to unincorporated areas of Eagle County such as Edwards and Beaver Creek. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m already no smoking so it’s already my decision and I did it,” Brown said. “It’s up to the people in town if they want it.”Harry Gray, resident and owner of Harry’s Bump and Grind, said he plans to vote in favor of the ban.”There’s still plenty of places you can smoke,” Gray said. “It’s nice to go to a bar or restaurant and not get smoke secondhand.”Since putting a stop to smoking in his establishment, business at Chili Willy’s has remained the same and customers compliment Brown on his choice, he said.Still, a level playing field could ensure people don’t walk across the street for a smoke at another restaurant, Brown said. A level playing field is a distinct possibility considering there’s also a no-smoking bill now working its way through the state legislature.On Tuesday, the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee passed a bill designed to ban smoking statewide in public places, including workplaces and restaurants. The bill is now headed to the state house.”I think smoking is reaching a tipping point in Colorado,” said Andy Kaufman, owner of the Minturn Saloon, where smoking is allowed in the bar.Kaufman said he understands both sides of the argument.”It’s always nice if the marketplace can decide for itself,” Kaufman said. “But the government oversees the cleanliness of our kitchens and that’s good.”Even so, prohibiting smoking has come up in the past at the Saloon.”We’ve been constantly reviewing that ourselves, asking customers what they like and how they’re feeling,” Kaufman said. “It’s an important discussion that takes place.”Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14622, or, Colorado

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