Eagle County voters endorse smoking ban | AspenTimes.com

Eagle County voters endorse smoking ban

J.K. Perry
Vail correspondent

CVR Smoking SM 11-1

EAGLE-VAIL ” Sitting over beers at Paddy’s in Eagle-Vail late Tuesday, smokers and nonsmokers alike said they were dismayed Eagle County’s commissioners were overwhelmingly told to enact a law banning indoor smoking.

Still, some were understanding.

“What I do to myself, I choose to do to myself, but I don’t want to cause anybody else harm,” smoker Tim Sapir of Edwards said. “I work at a [nonsmoking] bar and I wouldn’t want to be there every day” if smoking were allowed.

Nearly three-fourths of voters approved the measure, which means the commissioners will ban smoking in public places in like El Jebel in the Roaring Fork Valley, and Edwards, Eagle-Vail, Beaver Creek, Dotsero and other unincorporated areas along the I-70 corridor. Avon leaders have said they will consider a ban while Vail has been vague.

Paddy’s bartender Phil Courtney, saying he doesn’t represent the bar owner’s views, disagreed with the approval.

“When you own a business, you should be able to make your own decisions,” Courtney said. “I understand people don’t want the smoke. That’s why Paddy’s is nonsmoking until after dinner.”

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Others considered the business angle.

“It’s messing with small businesses. If I were a smoker, I’d go somewhere else where I could smoke,” said Brandon Pfaff of Minturn. His friend, Brian Schulz, sat next to him enjoying a cigarette. Schulz said he’d still come to Paddy’s and that the ban might help him cut down on his smoking.

Earlier Tuesday, Gore Range Brewery employees and customers sounded off on the referendum. Smoking at the bar and restaurant is prohibited while people are eating. Smokers typically go outside where heaters keep them warm, bartender Elizabeth Luciano said.

Luciano smokes occasionally while drinking, but she said she supports the ban. When a bartender was pregnant recently, employees asked smokers to go outside, she said.

And some smokers said they don’t mind the outdoors.

“I don’t really care about being inconvenienced. It’s bad anyway,” said Michael Colapietro, who sat outside the brewery while puffing a menthol cigarette.

Kenny Rossi, who smoked for 15 years, said from a barstool at Finnegan’s Wake that he doesn’t care if Eagle County bans smoking indoors. The smoke doesn’t bother him, but he knows it annoys many others, he said.

“I can’t believe it hasn’t happened yet,” Rossi said.

When smokers go to the bar, they want to smoke, Finnegan’s bar Manager Guido Gildroy said.

“It goes hand in hand. It’s natural to have a glass in one hand and a cigarette in the other,” Gildroy said.

The downstairs area of Finnegan’s is nonsmoking until 9 p.m., while the upstairs is a smoker’s haven all day. As far as the fight between nonsmokers and smokers is concerned, Gildroy said, “If you choose to come in, you can choose to leave.”

Gildroy said the ban could hurt business, even though smokers eventually will get used to it and smoke outside. Dave Gregory, a smoker, said the ban should be countywide if enacted so businesses will be affected equally.

“It shouldn’t affect specific towns because then it hurts businesses trying to make money,” Gregory said. “Smokers are going to go where they can sit, have a drink and smoke.”

Stacy Brockman, visiting the area from Kansas City, said it’s not the government’s place to meddle with smoking. However, if the ban were enacted she said she would still visit Finnegan’s Wake ” and smoke outside.

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