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Smoking ban awaits more research

Christine McManus

BRECKENRIDGE – County attorneys must do a little more homework on the draft of the proposed smoking ban after the third of six public discussions on the matter.

During Monday’s discussions of the proposed ban, the Summit Board of County Commissioners asked attorneys to research a few more clauses for the county’s definition of public place.

Tobacco shops would be exempt from the ban. However, the county must first define tobacco shop.

County officials must determine whether to define tobacco shops by a certain percentage of total tobacco-related sales, or by the amount of square footage dedicated to selling tobacco products.

County officials will visit tobacco shops and cigar bars.

Assistant county manager Sue Boyd will look into the existing requirements of child-care and adult-care facilities.

Commissioner Gary Lindstrom said such facilities are not public places when they are operated in private homes and therefore should not be regulated under the ban.

However, the licenses required to operate care facilities might already govern the matter of smoking.

Lindstrom said nursing homes are primarily residences, more than they are public places. Private residences would be exempt from the ban, regardless of whether they are rented or lodging.

“At nursing homes you typically walk through a blue haze of smoke every time you go in,” Lindstrom said. “Most of the people there now grew up in the smoking generation. I’d hate to see what would happen if you banned smoking there. Of course, probably half the reason they’re there is because they smoke.”

Owners, of course, may declare any lodging, residences or businesses smoke-free.

Private clubs also warrant further definition. SmokeFree Summit advocates said they were concerned that bars could charge a dollar for a private club membership and then allow smoking.

The county likely will define private clubs by whether they have a liquor license that is specifically designated “private club.”

Another new change to the proposed ban is an exemption of historic smoking signs (like old-fashioned Lucky Strikes billboards) or historic paraphernalia as tavern decor.

SmokeFree Summit advocates and restaurant/bar owners argued over the break-room exemption. Spaces such as employee break rooms, offices or storage areas where the public is not invited, would be exempt from the ban.

Bob Starekow, owner of Silverheels at the Ore House, asked whether his business would be fined if staff members were busy and did not catch a customer smoking.

“We don’t expect you guys to be police officers. Just do your best to advise people not to smoke,” Lindstrom said. “Don’t condone it.”

Enforcement is turning into an issue in New York City and in several Colorado towns that recently enacted smoking bans.

Commissioners plan to vote on the final language of the ban Jan. 26, after three more public hearings at 1:30 p.m. the next three Mondays.

The ban would not begin until June.

Summit County voters approved the ban last November by a 2-to-1 margin. The ballot language asked for a smoking ban in public places including restaurants and bars.

Towns must decide for themselves whether to implement bans in Breckenridge, Frisco, Dillon and Silverthorne. Many bars and restaurants want a similar ban throughout the county, in the interest of fair competition.

The draft smoking ban is available online at http://www.co.summit.co.us.


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