Smoking tougher in Avon, easier in Vail
EAGLE COUNTY – Bar owner Kent Beidel still disapproves of Avon’s smoking ordinance more than a year after it took effect. Beidel, owner of Loaded Joe’s Coffeehouse and Lounge, built a deck for smokers before the ban, and he doesn’t like that smokers have to move 25 feet from it to light up, he said. “The town should really back off to the state law,” Beidel said. Avon Police check bars to make sure the town’s ordinance – which went into effect March 2006 – is followed, police said. By the end of April, Avon Police had given eight tickets and five warnings to bar customers, said Krista Jaramillo, spokeswoman for the Avon Police Department.The fine for the first violation is $100 or less, the second one is $200 or less, and subsequent violations are $500 or less. “It’s definitely not good for business,” said Randall Knipmeyer, general manager of Finnegan’s Wake. The ban costs the Avon bar revenue when patrons spend time outside smoking and not buying drinks inside, he said. Finnegan’s also has hired more employees to enforce the ban, Knipmeyer said.
Knipmeyer wants to work with town councilors to change the law, he said. Chris Doyle, general manager at Bob’s Place, said his customers have adjusted. “We haven’t seen a negative effect in business from it at all,” Doyle said. “Our employees’ health is much more important.”Even before Avon went smoke-free in 2006, Loaded Joe’s did not allow smoking inside because it’s unhealthy, Beidel said. But the 25-foot rule confuses tourists from places like Denver, where the law is different, Beidel said. Bar patrons cannot carry their alcoholic beverages outside a bar’s or restaurant’s property. “It’s a difficult quandary because people want to drink and smoke,” Beidel said. Sean Hosseini was smoking outside the Squash Blossom jewelry store in Vail Village on Sunday afternoon. Hosseini, of Denver, seemed surprised when he was told that smoking was prohibited 15 feet from a building’s main entrance.
“I don’t know what the harm is,” Hosseini said. Inside the Squash Blossom, employee Kathryn Spurlock could smell the smoke wafting inside the business’s open door, she said. She disapproved of Hosseini’s smoking, but it didn’t bother her enough to ask him to put it out, she said. After the law went into effect July 1, Vail Police received a few complaints about smokers in Vail Village, where buildings are so close together, Vail police Commander Susan Douglas said. Those complaints have died down, she said. “The majority of smokers we see in Vail are trying to be polite and are staying away from doors,” Douglas said. Unlike Avon’s stricter smoking ordinance, Vail’s ban mirrors the state’s, said Douglas. Police have given warnings but have not ticketed anyone for violating the smoking ban, she said. Bar and restaurant owners have been policing their own establishments, she said.
Smoking is allowed on bar decks and patios, said Vail Police Sgt. Kurt Mulson. As long as smokers are making a reasonable effort to avoid smoking 15 feet from an entrance – they could close the door, for instance – they wouldn’t get a ticket, Mulson said. The ban has been good for business, said Leslie Glendining, co-owner of The George with her husband, Jim. People who would not have come before now spend money at the bar, and the restaurant side of the business has picked up, she said. “I’m just really glad for my husband’s lungs because he was there a lot over the years and he didn’t smoke,” Glendining said. Dennis Huff, a Vail resident for six years, was smoking a cigarette as he was on break from work. He has always smoked outside his home, so the ban doesn’t bother him, he said. “It would have been a good thing to help stop smoking, but what are you going to do?” said Huff after he exhaled some smoke. Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or firstname.lastname@example.org.