Breckenridge cigar exemption snuffed |

Breckenridge cigar exemption snuffed

Jane Stebbins/summit daily news
Summit Daily/Reid Williams Cecelia's owner Jeff Cox lost a bid to have Breckenridge's town council consider a smoking ban exemption for his cigar bar.

BRECKENRIDGE – To keep the consistency of the smoking ban throughout Summit County, the Breckenridge Town Council agreed Tuesday night not to draft an exemption to the town’s smoking ban.Cecilia’s cigar bar owner Jeff Cox had claimed that smoking was inherent to its business, but a 6-1 straw vote – with Councilmember J.B. Katz voting in favor of the amendment – snuffed his efforts. The ordinance, along with smoking bans in unincorporated Summit County, Frisco, Silverthorne and Dillon, went into place June 1. It is designed to protect the health of employees and patrons.The vote means Cox, like other restaurateurs and bar owners throughout the county, can no longer let patrons smoke cigars at his establishment.”In the principle of health, the principle of a level playing field (with other municipalities), this concept fails on both counts,” said Councilmember Larry Crispell.

Two weeks ago, Cox asked the council to consider exempting his cigar bar, and he’d hoped to sway the council in upcoming weeks. He was not present for the discussion Tuesday night, which fell under the topic of “other matters” on the agenda. At the beginning of the meeting, Don Parsons of SmokeFree Summit refuted some points Cox made at last month’s meeting, including exemptions in other states and cities and the carcinogens in cigars when compared to cigarettes. Parsons urged the council to keep the ordinance unchanged.Cox said Wednesday that an exemption for his bar would merely add one more to the three allowed under the ordinance. They include tobacco stores, hotels and bed and breakfasts where the proprietors permit smoking, and home day care facilities after the hours of operation.”I’m sure the young people who clean hotel rooms that allow smoking would feel they don’t have a smokefree environment,” Cox said. “I’m terribly confused by the argument that an exemption would negate the ordinance. They have three.””The bottom line is, cigar smoking has three times more carcinogens in the smoke than a cigarette,” said tobacco cessation coordinator Laurie Blackwell.

Councilmember Eric Mamula noted that, while he never favored the smoking ban, he didn’t want to carve out exemptions in the ordinance and create an unlevel playing field throughout the county.Cox doesn’t see it that way.”The bar was created around a certain space; it took years of marketing,” he said. “I sell cigars, booze and a place to enjoy the two together. They are taking away the ability to sell my product. That’s where it’s not a level playing field. I’m behind the 8 ball now.”He’s also bothered that town officials didn’t notify him that the topic would be discussed Tuesday night. But council members, noting Cox’s absence, said they had heard his arguments the previous week.

Parsons’s comments fell under “public comments,” a time when the council listens to issues posed by citizens. Often, the council doesn’t know who plans to speak. “This is great for each of the towns,” Blackwell said. “Elected officials really struggled with whether this was the right thing to do. We need to have a level playing field for restaurants and business. Had they exempted one bar, the elected officials in other towns would have said, ‘Wait a second, I thought we were in this together.’ They made their decision for solidarity.”-Jane StebbinsJane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or at

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