Mixed signals given for Dillon smoking ban | SummitDaily.com

Mixed signals given for Dillon smoking ban

SUMMIT COUNTY – As part of its countywide effort to lobby towns to ban smoking in public places, Smoke Free Summit presented its platform to the town of Dillon Tuesday night and received mixed results.

“My impression is that if they had to vote on it, it would be a close vote,” said Dr. Don Parsons, an SFS steering committee member who helped with the presentation.

An ordinance banning smoking in public places throughout unincorporated Summit County is slated for the Nov. 4 ballot but would not bind individual towns, which set their own policy on the issue.

Dillon Mayor Barbara Davis outlined the need for further discussion on the matter and said government had a mandate to protect the health of its citizens and that extended to a reduction in the incidences of second-hand smoke.

“I do think that government should not only take a stand and pass this ordinance, but it’s a responsibility,” she said.

With one of their colleagues on vacation, three council members expressed strong support for a separate town ordinance, one offered no comment, and two spoke out against any town effort to legislate smoking restrictions.

“I don’t think we should turn around and outlaw it for people to smoke,” Councilmember Jim Dover said.

A former smoker himself, Dover said that the problem of second-hand smoke in public establishments would regulate itself as customers patronized only those businesses where they felt comfortable. He noted that he does not visit certain restaurants in the county where smoking is permitted.

“I don’t think it’s our obligation to tell businesses what they can or can’t do,” he said.

Parsons said that of the nearly 200 restaurants in the county, 140 have gone smoke-free voluntarily and doing so had been good for business. But he added that these results are not enough and the issue at hand is employee health.

“The legislation is designed to protect the health of employees in a fair and equal fashion,” he said. “If there is no legislation, then employees who work in smoky environments are exposed to an inordinate health risk.”

The presentation highlighted results from a survey done in May by the National Research Center in Boulder that found 48 percent of Summit County residents supported an ordinance banning smoking in all enclosed public spaces and 65 percent supported a ban in some parts of enclosed public spaces.

Results for most of the individual towns fell close to that number, with Dillon posting 64 percent of residents supporting a partial ban on smoking and 51 percent supporting a full ban.

“We think the local jurisdictions should reflect the values of their community,” Parsons said. “We think it would be very positive for Summit County, Dillon and the other towns to adopt the same ordinance.”

Aidan Leonard can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or aleonard@summitdaily.com.

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