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Summit towns ban smoking

Julie Sutor Summit County Correspondent

Frisco’s bars and restaurants will be free from cigarette smoke – without exception starting June 1.

On Tuesday night, the Frisco Town Council unanimously passed an ordinance prohibiting smoking in enclosed public places.

The ordinance closely resembles a smoking ban passed by the county commissioners last month, despite some council members’ one-time interest in allowing for separately ventilated smoking rooms. Like the county ordinance, the new Frisco law contains no such exception.



“I would really hope that you all decide tonight to dance with the county and the other towns,” Frisco resident Gini Bradley said at the meeting. “Frisco needs to step up and be one of the players.”

CouncilmenBernie Zurbriggen and Jon Zdechlik said they agreed.



“At first, I was in favor of an exception,” Zdechlik said. “But the more I thought about it, if we all do something different, we’re not doing justice to the vote the citizens made.”

In November, Frisco residents voted 62 percent to 38 percent in favor of a countywide ballot question to ban smoking in public places.

Councilman Rick Amico, who has advocated for exceptions to the smoking ordinance on several occasions, made one last pitch before the council’s vote: “While I am in favor of the smoking ordinance as written, I have to listen to 38 percent of the voters. I would ask this council to at least consider an exception for late-night smoking after 10 p.m.”



Amico’s suggestion didn’t end up in the ordinance, despite its appeal to restaurateurs in the crowd.

“I brought with me two of my most important documents – my town of Frisco liquor license and business license,” said Jonn Greco, owner of Upstairs at Jonny G’s Sports Bar. “If this ordinance passes, these might mean nothing to me. We’re asking for some small exceptions. Many towns have put exceptions into their bans and been quite successful.”

Greco also took issue with the argument that special times or places for smoking would unjustly jeopardize his employees’ health.

“I don’t force my employees to work at Jonny G’s,” he said.

In Breckenridge, Town Councilwoman J.B. Katz, an asthmatic who doesn’t smoke, called the town’s new smoking ban an end of an era. Others in the audience called the ban the beginning of an economic decline and the loss of freedom.

Breckenridge Mayor Sam Mamula, who initially opposed the ban, said the council could enact a ban it could control or face one it couldn’t on the April 6 ballot. The SmokeFree Summit group was poised to go to the ballot box if towns across the county did not enact smoking bans.

Mamula also said overwhelming medical evidence about the dangers of secondhand smoke convinced him that the ban was right.

“I don’t want to be responsible, frankly, for even one person getting lung cancer because I decided to look on the economic side rather than on the health side,” Mamula said.

With Mamula a voice of the future and Katz a voice of the past, the council voted 6-1 Tuesday for the future.

“It is a sad day,” Katz said. “For me, it is the end of an era of what I always thought was we welcomed all types of people.”

She said that while smoking is not healthy, she believes employees in bars and

Mamula said he didn’t expect 100 percent compliance with the ban. He added that smoking patrols would not be marching out into the community, and most enforcement would come from citizen complaints.


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