Group endorses smoking ban
BRECKENRIDGE – Some local bar owners are haranguing over the financial impacts of Summit County’s smoking ban, but a large conference group has promised them business for years to come.Attendees of the annual Public Health in the Rocky Mountains conference descended on Breckenridge earlier this week for three days of workshops, panels, speakers and networking.The group of 500-plus doctors, nurses, public health administrators and researchers adopted a resolution to hold all its future gatherings exclusively in smoke-free communities.”It was an opportunity for us to walk the talk,” said Colorado Public Health Association (CPHA) president Gerrit Bakker. “I have a son with asthma, so it’s something I pay close attention to. As a public health person, (second-hand smoke) is something I notice right away.”Conference participants spent Monday evening in Breckenridge bars and restaurants.”We love the fresh air here,” said conference attendee Cathy White, a children’s health consultant. “We love not having to look around for a place that doesn’t have smoking.”
The group’s business was a welcome boost during the offseason.”We got several of them in on Monday night,” said Mi Casa manager Julie Ludwig. “Compared to the other nights this week, it definitely made a difference.”We had a group of nine public nurses that came in and had a great time. Another group called and made reservations, which we normally don’t get this time of year, but we’re certainly glad to take,” Ludwig added.According to conference organizers, the group paid for about 1,000 hotel-nights during the gathering.”Breckenridge will stay on a very short list of where we’ll be in future years,” said Steve Holloway, conference coordinator.”We want our dollars to support strong public health policy,” said Janna West Kowalski, a bioterrorism response trainer for the Colorado Department of Public Health.Kowalski also said she plans to organize smaller workshops and business gatherings in Summit County throughout the year.
Beaver Run’s sales and marketing director, Bruce Horii, said the smoking ban hasn’t been an issue – positive or negative – in bookings thus far, but the CPHA’s resolution has prompted him to view the policy as a marketing tool.”I’m going to present that to my team as being more of a selling point,” Horii said. “Especially if we’re dealing with anyone who’s health-oriented, we definitely want to push the smoking restrictions as a neat angle.”Conference sales staff at the Keystone Conference Center haven’t noticed any changes in their bookings related to the smoking ban.”It doesn’t have an effect on conference services,” said April Swenson, conference services office manager. “We’re a smoke-free facility anyway. It’s like going to a meeting or a movie theater. Everyone knows you can’t smoke.”Across the street, Snake River Saloon co-owner Jim Shields has a different opinion. He said he was in his bar one night while a Keystone employee was taking a prospective conference client on a tour of local establishments in the neighborhood.”When the woman found out there was a total (smoking) ban in Summit County, she was appalled,” Shields said. “I was told she represented a group of about 600 people. Her first impression was terrible.”
Legislative excellence in public healthThe Colorado Public Health Association awarded State Rep. Gary Lindstrom its Legislative Excellence Award for his leadership in enacting Summit County’s smoking ban.Lindstrom was a chief advocate and organizer of the countywide smoke-free workplace policy during his tenure as county commissioner.”People told me I could not enact a smoke-free policy in Summit County,” Lindstrom said, as he accepted his award. “The message is: When someone tells you no, ignore them.”Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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