Smoke debate set for Jan. 13
BRECKENRIDGE – The Breckenridge Town Council will dedicate its Jan. 13 work session to issues related to smoking in public places, and then decide if it will ask voters in the April election if they want to ban smoking.
At the Jan. 13 meeting, the Breckenridge council members will discuss the effects of such a ban on the local economy – especially in light of the fact that 85 percent of Breckenridge establishments that hold liquor licenses don’t allow smoking.
They also will discuss the rights of business owners to decide whether to allow smoking in their establishments, and they will consider the effects of secondhand smoke on their employees.
Additionally, town manager Tim Gagen will present sample ordinances from other towns for the council to peruse.
Town clerk Mary Jean Loufek will outline deadlines related to next April’s election. The town council also asked the Breckenridge Resort Chamber to survey its members and their employees, who work in smoking and nonsmoking establishments, how they feel about such a ban.
“They’re relatively silent on this issue,” said Mayor Sam Mamula. “We need some way to get an honest opinion about how they feel about the issues of smoking.”
The Breckenridge council has three options: It can craft a nonsmoking ordinance, let voters decide, or do nothing.
Overall the Breckenridge council agreed Tuesday night that it would probably be best to put the issue to a vote.
Smoking proponents – none of whom appeared at Tuesday’s regular council meeting – had hoped the results of a countywide election Nov. 4 would encourage town councils to enact townwide smoking bans.
Countywide, the question passed by a two-to-one margin.
Councilmember Jim Lamb insisted the voters have spoken, and a townwide decision should now rest in the hands of the town council.
But Mamula said that vote represents not only voters in town but those in outlying areas. Their votes might not necessarily reflect town citizens’ opinions, he said.
“The question did not say it would apply to the town of Breckenridge,” he said.
“If we had said if that vote passed it would (apply in Breck), if we had told the restaurant association and the merchants in advance that we were going to use it as evidence to make a decision, that would be different,” Mamula said.
“But we never said that.”
The Breckenridge Town Council, Mamula noted, has always made a point of gathering all the information it can and including as many citizens as it can before making any decision.
“When this is over, people need to know they have been heard, that we’ve analyzed all the information and we’ve made a decision based on what’s best for this community,” he said.
“This is a decision Breckenridge has really got to make.”
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or
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