Community mobilizes to ban smoking |

Community mobilizes to ban smoking

FRISCO – Let the controversy begin.Summit smokers always have had the freedom to light up whenever and wherever they felt the urge, while nonsmokers risked their health by breathing in second-hand smoke in restaurants and other public places. Now, the tables may be turning – from smoking to nonsmoking.More than 50 residents showed their support to ban smoking from indoor public places, including restaurants and bars, at SmokeFree Summit’s first meeting Thursday. And, there’s more to come. Local musicians are talking about signing a petition for a SmokeFree Summit, said DJ Dave Nichols, and at least 20 avid supporters couldn’t attend the meeting because they were working, said Laurie Blackwell, tobacco prevention coordinator with the Summit Prevention Alliance.Blackwell encouraged people to spread the word and bring at least one more person to the next meetings, at 11:30 a.m. and again at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 13, at the Summit County Community and Senior Center in Frisco.At the Feb. 27 meeting, Blackwell reviewed the dangers of second-hand smoke and provided information about other smoke-free cities and the value of tobacco ordinances. Attendees developed preliminary plans to educate the community about second-hand smoke, build grassroots support, create a task force and support a smoke-free community.SmokeFree Summit’s mission is to make public places in the county completely smoke-free, as opposed to allowing smoking in separately ventilated and completely enclosed smoking rooms in bars and restaurants.Based on the process of other communities going smoke-free, Blackwell suggested organized groups ask town councils to pass an ordinance mandating smoke-free establishments because elections are expensive and results can be overturned. (Pueblo currently faces this problem.) But Dillon councilmember Jack Benson and Mayor Barbara Davis encouraged SmokeFree Summit to get the issue on the ballot. Future meetings will determine which route smoke-free supporters will pursue.Many people at the meeting plan to actively work for the initiative because of personal or family health problems related to the dangers of smoking, second-hand smoke or both. Silverthorne resident Gail McDonald prefers nonsmoking restaurants because she has asthma. Breckenridge resident Virginia Wilson grew up in a family of smokers. She discovered her lungs looked like a smoker’s – even though she never smoked – when she had a chest x-ray at age 18.Not everyone at the meeting favored the initiative. John Greco, owner of Jonny G’s, thinks the ban will negatively affect his business.”My biggest question is, “Where do smokers go?'” Greco said. “(In bars), part of the social life is smoking. It amazes me how many cigarettes butts are in my ashtrays at the end of the night. Will people just get a six-pack and stay home or leave the bar to have a cigarette and not come back in?”Though a study by Hobart & Williams Smith College showed only 20 percent of adults in Colorado smoke, SmokeFree Summit members are aware they will meet some resistance, which is one reason they are focusing on community education.What’s next:SmokeFree Summit will hold two identical meetings – so night-shift and day-shift workers can attend – from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 7-9 p.m. Thursday, March 13, at the Summit County Community and Senior Center in Frisco.For more information, call Laurie Blackwell at (970) 668-2077.Completely smoke-free communities in Colorado:Alamosa, Louisville, Snowmass, Fort Collins (October, 2003)Communities that permit smoking only in separately ventilated rooms:Aspen, Boulder, Montrose, Pitkin County, Superior, TellurideDangers of second-hand smoke and studies on smoke-free communities:Second-hand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including arsenic, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide and radioactive elements. More than 60 of these chemicals have been identified as carcinogens.Smoke-filled rooms may have up to six times the air pollution of a busy highway.Bar workers are exposed to four-and-a-half times the amount of second-hand smoke found in a smoker’s home. During a shift in a smoke-filled bar, workers can breathe the equivalent of actively smoking one-and-a-half to two packs of cigarettes.Studies of sales tax data from 81 towns in six states consistently demonstrated ordinances restricting smoking in restaurants had no negative effect on revenues. Studies in Aspen, Snowmass and Telluride showed the same.Source: “Journal of Public Health Management and Practice,” January, 1999, and the Summit Prevention Alliance.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at

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