Senate to consider statewide smoke ban
Smoking in public places eventually may be banned in the state, but not with the blessing of Craig’s representative in the Colorado House of Representatives.
The House last week approved legislation that bans smoking indoors in most public places.
Casinos, cigar bars and designated smoking lounges at airports that have international flights are exempt.
District 57 Rep. Al White, R-Winter Park, voted against the legislation, which cleared the House on Friday and now goes to the state Senate.
White, whose district includes Craig, voted against the smoking ban because he thought it violated private property rights, a spokeswoman in his office said.
She also said White’s office has had considerable constituent response since the House vote — most of it opposing a smoking ban. She said the office has had about 200 calls, faxes and e-mails about the issue and estimated that fewer than 20 supported the ban.
“We value property rights in Northwest Colorado, perhaps more than they do in the rest of the state,” White said. “As long as smoking is legal, I don’t think we have the right to tell people they can or can’t in private establishments.”
One criticism of a smoking ban has been that it would hurt businesses, particularly restaurants and bars.
Denny Goucher, general manager of Village Inn in Craig, said she expects a ban would hurt her business.
“We have just as many smoking customers as we do non-smoking,” she said. “We’ve had people say that they do come here because we have a dedicated smoking area and they can smoke.”
Still, she doesn’t expect the ban would affect business in the long run, as long as it includes all restaurants — one reason the bill garnered support from the Colorado Restaurant Association.
“We just won’t know until we get there,” Goucher said.
Her Grand Junction counterpart, Lori Benton, said she lost some customers when the town enacted a smoking ban but that she said she gained some, too.
“All in all, we haven’t lost any business,” she said.
The Colorado law would prohibit smoking within 15 feet of a business entrance. In Grand Junction, smokers must stay nearly 30 feet away, Benton said.
That has affected the amount of litter on the property, she said. More customers leave to smoke, and many disregard the ashtray.
“I thought it was bad before, but this is worse,” Benton said. “I could stick 20 ashtrays out there, and they still wouldn’t use them.”
Ron LaSalle, owner of the Golden Cavvy, said his restaurant customers won’t notice the ban as much as those who patronize his bar.
“Seems to me that if people don’t like smoke, they won’t go to places where there’s smoke,” LaSalle said.
He thinks the decision should be left to business owners based on what their customers want.
Seventeen Colorado cities and counties have banned smoking in restaurants and bars. Colorado would be the 11th state to ban smoking statewide.
Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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