Smokers feel the downtown squeeze |

Smokers feel the downtown squeeze

Dennis Webb
Kara K. Pearson/Post Independent A woman smokes outside Doc Holliday's Saloon Wednesday evening.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS A new state law that forces people to do their smoking outside Colorado restaurants, bars and other establishments is threatening to send some of them down the street as well.That may be an unintended consequence of the part of the law that prohibits smoking not only in buildings, but within 15 feet of their doors.It might sound logical enough as a way of keeping smoke out of buildings. But in downtown Glenwood Springs, where storefronts are wedged so close together that smokers cant stay the required distance away from entryways.People get frustrated and they just stand outside the door, said Chris Reed, general manager of Springs Downtown Bar & Grill, and the adjacent Doc Hollidays Saloon.Glenwood police chief Terry Wilson agrees such establishments face a challenge dealing with smokers.If you get them 15 feet from one door theyre within 15 feet of another door, he said. It becomes this pass-it-down-the-block kind of thing.Basically I think were going to have to stack everybody under the Grand Avenue Bridge.Reed also wondered about the possibility of people using the pedestrian area under the bridge, but said that probably wouldnt appeal to others using that area.Wilson said his department has taken a few calls a week from people concerned that others werent abiding by the 15-foot rule.The rule is one of the challenges facing local communities as they begin to implement the statewide law, which took effect at the start of the month. The cities of Rifle and Glenwood Springs are both working on passing municipal ordinances that mirror the state law, so they can prosecute violators in municipal court and keep all fines collected from them, rather than having to return 25 percent of proceeds to the state.But aggressively policing violators isnt a high priority for the cities police departments. Rifle police Chief Daryl Meisner plans to have the department enforce the smoking ban when it receives complaints, rather than looking for scofflaws.Wilsons goal, for now anyway, is to have his department focus on educating businesses and smokers about their need to comply with the new law, he said.The state law is punishable by a fine of up to $200 for the first violation in a calendar year, $300 for the second, and $500 for any more violations that year.Reed said the law can be hard for bartenders to enforce, particularly in the case of the 15-foot rule.Were trying to watch things on the inside as well as the outside, she said.Wilson worries that cigarette butt litter could become a major problem downtown because of the new state law. He also fears that in places without room for the 15-foot rule to be followed, businesses might hesitate to put out outdoor ashtrays closer to their doorways because they might be encouraging people to smoke there.Glenwood Springs reporter Heidi Rice contributed to this article.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado

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