Summit voters consider smoking ban
SUMMIT COUNTY- If you walk into the The Goat in Keystone for some “soup and whiskey” or a game of fooseball, you’ll get a serving of local politics at no extra charge.
On the walls of the establishment’s smokey bar- and its adjacent smoke-free bar- there are signs encouraging Summit County voters to “Protect all your rights. Vote against the smoking ban on Nov. 4.”
One stealthy patron or employee took a marker to one of the posters and changed its message to “Protect all our rights. Vote for the smoking ban on Nov. 4.”
The Goat is a microcosm of a larger debate raging in the county about whether or not smoking should be prohibited in bars and restaurants. The question will appear on the November ballot in the form of Refferred Question 1B.
If the majority of voters say “Yes,’ the county will draft an ordinance that would ban smoking unequivocally in bars and restaurants, said County Commissioner Gary Lindstrom.
According to Lindstrom, the specifics of the the ordinance will be hammered out during three to six months of public hearings and discussion. Whether the ordinance would include other establishments, such as retail stores, professional offices and private clubs, like the Elks Lodge, is not yet determined.
The ban would not include outdoor locations, such as sidewalks and lift lines, or private enclosed locations like cars and homes.
November’s ballot question does not pertain to incorporated towns in Summit County. Once the votes are in, however, the town councils will most likely tackle the issue, so that potential town ordinances could roughly coincide with a county ordinance.
Should Summit County adopt a smoking ban, it would join smoke-free cities such as Fort Collins, Snowmass, Alamosa, New York, Los Angeles and Boston.
The town of Avon has considered banning smoking in bars and restaurant, but the idea was scrapped by the Town Council before any significant debate occured.
“It’s an important health issue for your families, your visitors and your coworkers,” said Dr. Jason Luchtefeld, co-chair of SmokeFree Summit.
According to Luchtefeld, secondhand smoke is a serious health risk for employees and frequent patrons of smokey establishments as well as children, asthmatics, diabetics and pregnant women.
Health risks associated with secondhand smoke exposure include heart disease, lung cancer, asthma attacks, bronchitis, flu and throat cancer.
Even state-of-the-art ventilation systems do little to alleviate health risks, Luchtefeld said. They may reduce smoking odors, but the most toxic components of cigarette smoke remain.
Non-smoking sections in restaurants and bars don’t do much to protect workers and patrons either, Luchtefeld said. Even if the areas are physically separated by walls or doors, those in a non-smoking section are still exposed to secondhand smoke as it makes its way through the building’s ventilation system.
Many restaurant owners oppose the ban, saying it interferes with their freedom to run their businesses as they choose.
“It’s not so much about smoking as it is about choice,” said John Daisy, owner of Fatty’s in Breckenridge and president of the Breckenridge Restaurant Association. “If you don’t like smoking, go to a non-smoking bar or restaurant. You’d be hard pressed to find a place in Summit County without a non-smoking bar. There are more places than ever before.”