In Glenwood Springs, that cigarette could cost you $200
Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson says his department has entered the enforcement phase of a new smoking ban in downtown Glenwood Springs.
After Glenwood Springs City Council last summer passed a ban on smoking in downtown between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m., police officers first took a public education approach by spreading the word and fliers to ease the shock of the potential $200 fine for a first offense.
The second offense in the same calendar year is up to $300, and the third is up to $500.
“We definitely tried to take what I felt was a patient approach to it, putting out information with fliers and foot patrols, putting up signage,” said the chief. “At this point we’ve probably gone overboard on reasonableness, and it’s time they need to know.
“Now we’re at the point that if we catch you smoking 5 feet from the sign, you should get a ticket.”
Wilson hopes word will spread quickly and help keep people from being caught off guard by the ticket.
But in reality, a ticket works a lot better than a flier, he said.
“We have a strong sense that most violations are going to be from repeat customers,” said Wilson. “We’re talking about the nightly bar crowds mostly, so that’s where we focused our education efforts.”
Past 10 p.m. smokers at the bars still need to keep at least 15 feet away from the establishment under state law.
Smoking enforcement is going to be handled like anything else that’s proactive in nature: Officers will hit it when they can, when call volumes and staffing levels give them the opportunity to do it, Wilson said.
“It’s a combination of timing and availability. So when they do have those opportunities, they’ll be out there paying special attention to the smoking ban.”
Tristen Snow was one person in Glenwood Springs who got a shock from the ticket. Snow said he got cited with the $200 charge just 20 minutes before 10 p.m. Dec. 23.
The ordinance isn’t posted well enough, he said, and sure the city needs to make money, but if you’re not from around here and don’t know, it’s a lot to pay.
Maybe it would be more appropriate for the fine to be closer to a parking ticket, said Kimball Goold, a Denverite visiting Glenwood Springs for the first time Monday. “The city should put more signs up if they’re going to fine you $200. That’s a bit ridiculous and seems like a little bit of discrimination.”
Linda Zamora, found in the alley behind the Hotel Denver, said, “That’s stupid,” of the smoking ban.
She’s been coming to Glenwood Springs since she was 3 years old to visit the Hot Springs and get good food. But her family probably won’t come back after this trip due to the smoking ban, she said. “We’ll probably go to a town that’s a little more friendly.”
Zamora said she’s also confused about where exactly she can and can’t smoke.
“I understand that people don’t want to walk through my smoke, so the ban wouldn’t be so bad if the city had some designated smoking areas,” she said.