Council to mull ban on smoking


A local group will ask the Steamboat Springs City Council to ban smoking from all work and public places.

The group -- SmokeFree Steamboat -- is bringing forward a proposal to tonight's council meeting that would put a smoke-free ordinance in place for all workplaces, restaurants, bars, public places, sporting events and retail and grocery stores.

Under the ordinance, smoking would be allowed in private residences, nonprofit clubs and 20 percent of hotel rooms.

"I think there is wide community support to move in this direction," said Judy Hiester, who has led the group and is the Tobacco Prevention Program coordinator for the Visiting Nurse Association.

Last summer, a group representing the restaurant industry, public health and resort community began working on local smoking legislation that would put a smoking ban in place.

The council discussed having voters decide the issue in November and then postponed the decision so the group could have more time for research and education.

The group is back before the council tonight with a proposed ordinance.

City Manager Paul Hughes said the council would have to weigh the pros and cons of the proposal.

"I think the council was hoping this would be something put on the November ballot and asked to the voters," he said. "Then it is a slam dunk -- no argument, no appeal."

Hughes noted that smoking bans have had a high success rate with voters in Colorado.

Hiester said the group decided to ask for an ordinance because it was such an important public health issue, and she said the majority of the communities that have enacted smoking restrictions have done so through ordinance, not public vote.

"Because it is a public-health and safety issue, I think City Council is well within its realm to make that decision. They make those decisions all the time," Hiester said.

Hiester said the group listened to concerns of those in the restaurant industry, who said they wanted a level playing field.

As proposed, the ordinance would require all work places, restaurants and bars -- including any areas that might be outside -- to be smoke free. It also asks for all enclosed public places to be smoke free.

The proposal also would prohibit smoking within 25 feet of places where smoking is not allowed. Smoking also would be prohibited at indoor and outdoor sporting areas and within 50 feet of any sporting activity.

The proposed ordinance would be more restrictive than the efforts of a state Senate bill introduced in March. If passed, the bill would prohibit indoor smoking in restaurants, bars, offices and sporting arenas.

Hiester said the group decided to move forward with the local initiative, regardless of the outcome of the bill.

"We are very supportive of the state law. We hope that it passes," Hiester said. "But we have our own coalition going. We have our own momentum. We want to make sure we are moving forward to protect the city of Steamboat Springs, at least."


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