Junction busting outdoor smokers
September 26, 2007
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. ” It may be James Raley’s $75 cigarette.
The 31-year-old Loma smoker says he’s all for restrictions against lighting up indoors, which was why he was happy Monday night to venture outside in front of the Corral Bar for a smoke.
He still broke the law.
Listing the City of Grand Junction as a crime victim, police ticketed Raley for standing about two feet from the bar’s front door while puffing.
He’s among a handful of people cited under municipal law since the city adopted indoor smoking restrictions in public places.
“Lucky me … sometimes it’s just not your day,” said Raley. “I’m not really upset, it’s just ridiculous. Three (patrol) cars pulled up.”
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The city’s ordinance ” effective in January 2006 and amended six months later to conform with Colorado’s Clean Indoor Act ” says smoking isn’t allowed within 15 feetof the front or main doorways leading into a public building or facility, including patio areas.
Raley claims he didn’t know the specific distance.
“If clearance is that big of a deal, isn’t there some responsibility to have the area marked where you can be?”
Grand Junction police spokeswoman Linda Bowman said smoking enforcement violations are “generally low on our priority list.”
Since January 2006, the department’s issued eight tickets for individual smoking violations, she said.
City records examined Tuesday show smoking criminal proceedings are rare.
In two years, the city’s prosecuted six people. Two of the cases including Raley’s are pending before a municipal judge.
Three people have been arrested and jailed after failing to appear on smoking charges. In another case, a man has an outstanding arrest warrant for failure to appear.
The city’s municipal sentencing guidelines call for fines of $75, but judges can go below or above that amount up to $1,000.
“I don’t see any aggravating factors in (Raley)’s case,” she said.
Raley’s court appearance is Nov. 13.
“I’ll ask the judge to be lenient,” he said.