Smoking ban proposal has no exemptions | VailDaily.com

Smoking ban proposal has no exemptions

Christine McManus/Summit County Correspondent

Smoking will likely be banned in unincorporated Summit County restaurants, bars, retail stores, theaters, health facilities, sports arenas, bowling alleys, bus stops, gondolas, offices, banks, laundromats, libraries, public restrooms and elevators, child care facilities, lobbies, museums, libraries and the common areas of apartment buildings, condominium complexes, retirement homes and nursing homes.

Commissioner Gary Lindstrom had said the Board of County Commissioners would consider exemptions. He changed his, however, persuaded perhaps by Commissioner Bill Wallace or SmokeFree Summit advocates.

“The voters said, “in enclosed restaurants, bars and public places,'” Wallace said. “”The public,’ means anywhere the public has a right go.” Wallace has made these points repeatedly, never wavering from his stance.

Smoking would not be regulated by the government in private homes, hotel rooms, tobacco stores or on the stage of theaters.

The draft law is silent on, and therefore allows, smoking on patios and smoking outside of businesses.

Employees rights to work in a smoke-free work place were not mentioned on the ballot question. Advocates of the smoking ban have said they are concerned about the health of servers and bartenders who work in smoky restaurants and bars.

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The commissioners will not review the smoking ban from the employee health vantage point, said county attorney Frank Celico.

Any proprietors could ban smoking in their establishments independently from the list of places where smoking will be banned, says the draft law.

First-time violators could be fined up to $100. Second-time violators could be fined $200 maximum and further offenses would lead to $300 maximum fines, if the ordinance passes as is on Jan. 26.

The unincorporated county smoking ban is tentatively scheduled to go into affect June 1.

Town councils throughout Summit County might vote on bans or choose to host their own elections in April. There has been some question whether voters intended the smoking ban to be countywide, not just in unincorporated parts of the county, but also in the towns as well.

At a recent public hearing, Breckenridge, Frisco and Silverthorne officials listened, but didn’t say much.

“The Frisco Town Council is waiting for the county discussion to go a little further,” said Linda Lichtendahl, Frisco community relations director. “They want to see what the other towns do.”

Dillon officials have already had several work sessions. Mayor Barbara Davis strongly supports a smoking ban in Dillon.

Owners of bars and restaurants and SmokeFree Summit advocates attended the public hearing, second of six public comment sessions.

“If you fine a tourist $100, I guarantee you he won’t ever come back to Summit County,” said Jonn Greco, owner of Jonny G’s bar in Frisco.

Law enforcement officers would be reasonable, only fining habitual offenders if needed, Lindstrom said. He recommended that concerned business owners visit non-smoking businesses.

Owners of bars and restaurants asked commissioners to consider exceptions to the ban, such as allowing smoking in bars after 10 p.m.

“I’ve watched my customers since this move for a smoking ban began. They enjoy smoking a lot,” Greco said. “I have a second-floor business and my patio would only hold about 20 people. I wish I’d protested more against this before the Nov. 4 vote.”

By a 2-to-1 margin, Summit County voters chose to ask commissioners to implement a smoking ban in restaurants, bars and public places. County attorneys wrote the draft ban modeled after the Colorado Tobacco Education and Prevention Alliance’s suggested smoking ban.