Ban decision may be delayed

City considers waiting for smoking bill in state Legislature

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The first reading of a smoking ban ordinance will come before the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday.

But the council might wait to take final action on the ordinance until another smoking bill works its way through the state Legislature, City Manager Paul Hughes said.

On Wednesday, the Colorado Senate amended the bill so that smoking would be prohibited in restaurants, but not bars, bowling alleys, bingo parlors or casinos.

Originally, the state bill -- dubbed the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act -- was proposed to prohibit indoor smoking in restaurants, bars, offices, sports arenas, gymnasiums, auditoriums, gaming facilities, billiard or pool halls, bowling alleys and any place of business with four or more workers.

The bill was passed on its third reading in the Senate and is now in the House.

"We are waiting to see if they do, in fact, pass a law and if that law supersedes anything locally," Hughes said.

What has been proposed to the City Council is more restrictive than the original state bill.

On April 5, a local coalition called SmokeFree Steamboat proposed an ordinance that would ban smoking from all workplaces, bars, public places, sporting events, retail and grocery stores and the indoors and outdoors of restaurants.

In a memo to the council, city staff recommended that the council wait to make a final determination until after the bill passes through the Colorado Legislature to ensure the city would not be in conflict with the bill.

The city's proposed ordinance is more restrictive than the state's bill, and the state could put wording in the bill that would stipulate local governments could not pass more restrictive laws, Hughes said.

If the council waits until the state bill is finalized, it would have the second reading of the city ordinance June 7.

"It makes sense to wait for the second reading," Hughes said.

The city's ordinance also stipulates that a smoker be 25 feet from anywhere smoking is prohibited or from an open window of a nonsmoking establishment. At the April 5 meeting, council members debated about whether the 25-foot restriction would make it difficult for people to smoke outside downtown and near mountain restaurants and bars.

Staff also suggested that people smoking cigarettes be 25 feet away from the entrances of smoke-free establishments.

The council had asked that the ordinance read a "reasonable distance," as opposed to 25 feet, but staff thought the wording was subjective and would be hard to enforce.

Staff also suggested that the city provide "no smoking" signs for businesses that request them. The city estimates that 200 signs would cost about $750. After the first 200 signs are distributed, businesses would have to purchase their own.

On April 5, the majority of the council said they would support a nonsmoking ordinance instead of taking the issue to voters in November.

The city also has received 51 letters in support of the ordinance and a petition with 436 signatures supporting the ordinance.

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