County, towns get ready for smoking ban |

County, towns get ready for smoking ban

Julie Sutor
Marnie Briggs, a bartender at the Cala Inn in Summit Cove, waits on a patron Tuesday

afternoon. The smoking ban, passed by voters this week, applies to a number of bars and restaurants in unincorporated Summit County, including the Cala Inn.|Summit Daily/Kara K. Pearson| |

SUMMIT COUNTY – County commissioners, town councils and bar owners are gearing up for smoking bans around the county.

A voter-approved ballot question directs the county commissioners to pass an ordinance banning smoking in bars and restaurants on unincorporated county land.

“Everybody needs to sit down and discuss this,” County Commissioner Tom Long said. “You don’t just go ban smoking tomorrow.”

Long expects the process will take a minimum of two months and a maximum of six, according to the amount of public discussion on the issue.

“It depends on what comes up,” he said.

Restaurants and bars

look to the future

In the meantime, restaurant and bar owners are eager to see how the ordinance takes shape.

“Now that (the smoking ban) has passed, I’m hoping that the restaurant association will have the opportunity to work with SmokeFree Summit and the county commissioners to arrive at something workable,” said Bob Starekow of Silverheels at the Ore House, co-president of the Summit County Restaurant Association.

Prior to the election, the association formally opposed the ballot question, but most bar and restaurant owners felt the ban was inevitable.

“That’s kind of the way things are going now. I don’t think it will affect us too much at all,” said Scott Pohlman, owner of the Cala Inn in Summit Cove. “I still wish it wasn’t passed, but it’s a sign of where things are going.

“Boulder, Fort Collins, New York, the rest of the country is getting used to it. People will adjust and change. If Ireland can adjust, I think we can, too,” Pohlman said.

While Pohlman objects to the ban from a business perspective, he and his employees are personally looking forward to working in a smoke-free environment, he said.

“All my bartenders are happy. It’s one of the best ways to make money up here, especially for a student taking classes, and now that they won’t have to deal with the smoke, it’s really good for them.”

Towns to tackle

smoking, too

Town councilmembers around the county are drawing lines on the issue and examining their constituents’ leanings.

Frisco Councilmember Bernie Zurbriggen is ready to charge ahead.

“The citizens of Frisco have clearly spoken on this issue,” Zurbriggen said. “We should not waste any time. We should go about the business of establishing an ordinance to ban smoking in public places in the town of Frisco.”

Zurbriggen said some members of the council don’t agree with him, and he’s not sure how the vote will go.

Barring council action on the issue, a smoking ban will probably appear on the town ballot in April, but Zurbriggen thought that would be redundant of Tuesday’s vote.

Breckenridge Councilmember Jim Lamb voiced similar sentiments for his town.

“Our constituents have spoken. They want a smoking ban, and I think Breckenridge needs to take a lead and ban smoking in our town,” Lamb said.

“It’s come out 2-1. If we want to serve our community, we have to ban smoking and create a safe environment for our employees. Why is it the nonsmokers have to go somewhere else? Why can’t we say, “It’s OK to smoke, but you can’t smoke here where it’s affecting other people,” Lamb added.

Some bar owners in unincorporated areas also hope the towns will move forward, so they don’t end up on an uneven playing field.

“Hopefully the towns will go with what people voted for. I think they should take action and not exclude us peripherals,” Pohlman said.

Enforcement difficult

One of the toughest aspects of drafting any smoking ban is enforcement.

“Quite frankly, this will be an ordinance we can’t enforce,” Long said. “If you see someone smoking in a bar, are you going to call 911? Let’s be honest.”

Pohlman hopes enforcement provisions are included in the ordinance.

“I’m interested in how it’ll be enforced. In some places, it doesn’t work. They put a sign on the door, and no one pays attention to it, and people don’t care if they have to pay a $15 fine,” Pohlman said.

“If we’re going to have a ban, make it strict enough and enforce it. We’ll have no ashtrays. And are people going to start smoking and throwing their cigarettes on the floor or putting them out on the bar?”

Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or at

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