Voters can kill or kick start smoking ban |

Voters can kill or kick start smoking ban

Shane Macomber/Daily file photoEmployees and owners of bars in Eagle County say they have mixed feelings about a proposed smoking ban.

EAGLE ” County voters won’t have many local issues on the Nov. 1 ballot, but the ones they do have are pretty big.

The Eagle County Commissioners Tuesday approved language for a ballot issue asking county voters to endorse a smoking ban. They also approved ballot language to form a “home rule” commission.

The vote for the smoking ban was 3-0. Commissioner Tom Stone voted against the home rule issue, with commissioners Peter Runyon and Arn Menconi voting yes.

The smoking question wouldn’t actually ban smoking. Instead, it would authorize the commissioners to pass smoking regulations for all indoor public places including restaurants and bars in unincorporated parts of the county, such as Eagle-Vail, Edwards and Beaver Creek.

For John Lusk, who works at the Gashouse in Edwards ” itself a non-smoking restaurant and bar ” a smoking ban would be good news.

“It repulses me,” Lusk said. “My father died of lung cancer from smoking, and I just don’t like it.”

But Tuesday’s vote was news to an Eagle-Vail restaurant owner.

“If it’s everywhere, I’m all for it,” said Ralph Dockery, owner of Paddy’s Sports Bar and Grill. “But the towns have to get on board.”

Paddy’s limited smoking to the bar, and only after 9:30 p.m., at the end of 2003.

“Our bar sales dropped, and we attribute it directly to going non-smoking,” Dockery said. “People just went somewhere else.”

Dockery said he’d like to see a statewide smoking ban, so restaurants and bars everywhere are affected equally. The Colorado Restaurant Association supported a bill in the state legislature earlier this year, Dockery said. The Colorado House of Representatives passed the bill, but it was shot down in the State Senate.

“I lived through this in California, and I know what happens if you piecemeal it,” he said. “It’s not good.”

County voters will also be asked to elect an 11-member “home rule” commission. That group will work on a new county charter.

The main parts of the charter could be making some county jobs that are now elected ” such as treasurer, surveyor and assessor ” and turning them into appointed positions. The charter could also increase the number of commissioners from three to five.

In Pitkin County, which has had a home rule charter for a number of years, the five commissioners represent districts, and only voters in those districts vote for those candidates.

Eagle County’s commissioners also represent districts, but are elected by all county voters.

Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or

Vail Daily, Vail Colorado

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