Smoke-Free Summit: Six months later |

Smoke-Free Summit: Six months later

Jane Stebbins

SUMMIT COUNTY – Carol Hoppe of Buffalo, N.Y., won’t venture into a place where smoking is permitted. So she was pleased to learn all of Summit County’s restaurants and bars have gone smoke-free.”I find it very offensive,” she said. “If I open a door and smell it, I won’t go in. But I frequent places more now that it’s smoke-free.”Reactions were predictable: Those who frequent bars that used to cater primarily to smokers aren’t happy with the laws, while others – mostly nonsmokers – are pleased.”It sucks; it’s bogus,” said Bob Hutton, who was eating lunch at Bubba’s Bones in Breckenridge. “It’s the tyranny of the majority. I don’t go out as much as I used to, and it affects the places I used to frequent.””I love it,” said Amy Molitor of Breckenridge. “You didn’t notice (the smoke) when (smoking was allowed), but you’d go out and come home and have to throw your clothes in the laundry, the smoke was in your hair. Or go to Denver … It affects everything – the food, the wine.”Politics and civil rightsThe ordinances were passed in Frisco, Breckenridge, Dillon, Silverthorne and unincorporated Summit County and are meant to provide a healthier working environment for employees. The most vocal argument against it was that the law was seen as an infringement on bar and restaurant owners deciding what happens in their businesses.”I stand behind the rights of the owners of the establishment,” said Ross Madsen of Breckenridge, who used to smoke the occasional cigarette, and then only in a bar. “It’s more of people taking away rights.”He said he’s seen people get confrontational when told they can’t light up in an establishment. “A lot of people are put off by the whole thing,” Madsen said. “It’s a problem in a ski area. You can’t smoke and be warm.””I think there should be exceptions,” added Chris King, a nonsmoker eating lunch at Fatty’s. “If your clientele is 70 percent smokers, you should be able to cater to them. They’re stepping on freedoms, stepping on toes, and there’s not a voice for those toes.”Outside, Mike Phegley was braving sub-zero temperatures to enjoy a cigarette.”I wish I could smoke in there, but I realize this is a healthy community, and I respect that,” he said. “I’m in the minority. I just think that it’s messed up that they can legally sell (liquor) that kills more people than cigarettes, and yet I can’t smoke in there.”The bottom lineJim Shields, owner of the Snake River Saloon, has complained since the beginning about the ban, saying it has adversely affected his business.”It’s definitely hurt our business,” he said, adding that bar sales are off $30,000 since June. “People are standing out front, standing out back, people are in the bar. There’s little groups fragmented everywhere. You cannot generate the kind of scene like a Cheers bar.”Dick Carleton of Mi Casa said business there is way up, but he’s not sure if it’s the smoking ordinance or the bar remodel, which coincided. Bartenders and waitstaff are generally pleased with the ordinances.Despite fears that tips would decline, most employees interviewed said their tips have remained the same.”I don’t think it’s affected us one way or the other,” said Diane Cook, a server at Fatty’s. “People have done a good job (adjusting). And when we closed for a few days to clean, it was a lot easier to clean up the establishment.”Vail, Colorado

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