Butt out

Smoking ban in effect; no tickets issued yet


The smoke has cleared in Colorado's bars and restaurants.

But the debate about the state's smoking ban will linger long after lawmakers told smokers to put it out.

The smoking ban, which took effect at midnight Saturday, makes it illegal to light up in bars and restaurants.

Smokers, as well as restaurant and bar owners, can be ticketed and fined for violating the ban.

Although police can write tickets to violators, George Epp, executive director of County Sheriffs of Colorado, said that during the first days of the ban, the focus will be on education more than enforcement.

"We want to make sure bar and restaurant owners and their patrons understand the law and can get answers to any lingering questions," Epp said.

Craig Police Officer Storm Fallon said Sunday she didn't know about anyone in Craig being ticketed during the weekend for violating the ban.

Supporters of the ban said they hope smokers will continue to go to bars and restaurants, even if it means patrons have to step outside to smoke.

"We encourage Coloradans to get out and support their local businesses once these establishments become smoke-free," said Chris Sherwin, executive director of the Colorado Tobacco Education and Prevention Alliance. "Smokers and non-smokers alike will benefit from healthier indoor environments, and we should all show our favorite bars and restaurants -- as well as ones we haven't perhaps frequented before -- that we appreciate their commitment to public health."

The ban already has made an impact at one local eatery.

Gabriel Clark, manager at Vil------lage Inn, said his restaurant complied with the ban by shutting down its smoking section. The restaurant is completely smoke-free, which delights customers and employees, Clark said.

"We've had a few customers comment," he said. "They like it better, said it's a better ambiance."

He said it's likewise for employees.

"They do feel they work better," Clark said.

Opponents of the ban say it isn't fair for the state to tell bartenders what to do.

"I think it's a little excessive," said Natalie Simpson, of Craig.

Simpson, who manages Smok--er Friendly in Craig, said she has heard from customers who say they won't go to bars now that they can't smoke there.

"It's going to hurt quite a few places," she said.

Simpson said that, as a resident, not as Smoker Friendly manager, she doesn't like the ban.

"You get to do more in Russia now than you do in the U.S.," she said.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.