Extremism doesn’t work in outrightbanning of smoking in public places
Since the first of June has arrived, I thought it might be worth revisiting some of the reasonable arguments against the new smoking ordinance. It alarmed me to read the words of the Summit Prevention Alliance’s Laurie Blackwell in the May 27 edition of the Summit Daily News when she described the smoking ordinance as “an across-the-board decision” and predicted that “it is too late” for Jeff Cox of Cecilia’s cigar bar to seek reconsideration. First of all, in a democracy it is never too late – that we should be thankful for. Secondly, the smoking ordinance is not across-the-board; exemptions have been carved out to allow smoking in guest rooms, child-care facilities during certain hours of the day and tobacco shops. I think we can all agree that the exemptions already in place do not render the ordinance meaningless as Councilmember Jim Lamb suggested. However, Lamb’s claim that we either have a smoke-free workplace initiative or we do not is directly on point. In the case of hotel maintenance staff, tobacco shop employees and workers in private child-care establishments – we do not. The inconsistencies between the function of the ordinance and the discussions surrounding it are glaring. The principal fear among decision makers appears to stem from the belief that any exemption will open the door to a flood of applicants. This concern is misguided. Ordinances in other tourist destinations and highly livable U.S. cities, including New York and San Francisco, have created effective public health safeguard limits while allowing for the continuation of business as usual in “established cigar bars.”In those cities, lawmakers recognized the importance of equal protection for all small business owners and perhaps more importantly, they recognized the value of rich social diversity over homogeneity. I believe Summit County can be equally successful in protecting multiple interests.To be honest, I am glad there is no smoking in the restaurants we patronize, but the majority of savvy Breckenridge restaurateurs voluntarily prohibited smoking long before the ordinance went into effect.With such widespread solidarity among business owners to independently operate their businesses in accordance with the aims of the ordinance, I find it hard to see the need for regulation that threatens to rob Breckenridge of its unique character, created in large part by one-of-a-kind businesses. Above all, I agree with Councilmember Eric Mamula’s sentiment that there should be options available for individuals to decide where to work and how to socialize. While smoking remains irrefutably unhealthy, I dare suggest that more well-reasoned, moderate responses may better address a plurality of interests – extremism has never served us well. Manal StulgaitisBreckenridge
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