Breckenridge Town Council tables new smoking laws to research cigar bars
A minor change to Breckenridge’s smoking laws have one local business owner nervous about his niche — and the niche has nothing to do with ever-popular vape pens.
The Breckenridge Town Council on Tuesday heard the second reading of a revised smoking ordinance. As it stands, the proposed ordinance limits indoor use of electronic devices like vaporizers, also known as vape pens, and places further restrictions on smoking in front of building entrances and on public patios.
That final provision brought Jeff Cox to the town council meeting.
As owner of Cecelia’s Martini Bar, the town’s only cigar bar, he believes a blanket restriction against smoking on patios might harm his business.
“It wasn’t on any of our radars,” Mayor John Warner said after the meeting. “It was very serendipitous. None of us really knew about the laws around cigar bars, so had we approved the smoking ordinance last night, it would’ve eliminated his customer’s ability to smoke cigars anywhere.”
Following Cox’s comments, the council opted to table the ordinance until the Feb. 10 meeting. The two-week buffer gives town staff time to research the statewide laws that govern cigar bars, including the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act.
At the meeting, Cox noted that cigar bars are one of the few smoking-related businesses not restricted by Colorado law.
“Essentially, we could perhaps eliminate their niche, which in his eyes is a legal niche,” Warner said. “We decided it was better for our staff to find out the truth of the matter.”
Cox voiced similar concerns when the town passed the original clean-air ordinance in 2006. At the time, Warner was on the council and said the members worked with Cox to protect his niche. Cecelia’s currently sells cigars and guests are allowed to smoke on the outdoor patio.
At the first reading on Jan. 11, Warner expressed concern that businesses and residents weren’t aware of the potential changes to the smoking ordinance. The Breckenridge Police Department then sent emails to all businesses with a business occupational license tax certificate. The mayor says the town received eight responses. Cox was the sole concerned owner, while the remaining seven backed the new ordinance.
“Between now and then, there’s always the danger that the public will see this as favoritism, that one business will be able to have indoor smoking,” Warner said. “But it’s only for the singular purpose of cigars, not cigarettes or pipes or anything else.”
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