No butts about it: Eagle County bans smoking |

No butts about it: Eagle County bans smoking

Scott N. MillerVail correspondent
NWS Smoking2 SM 1-6

EAGLE – The countdown to the Eagle County snuff-out has begun.When the Eagle County commissioners voted 3-0 Tuesday to impose a strict smoking ban, a 60-day countdown began to the day it takes effect. By March 11 (give or take a day or two, since that date is a Saturday), the places in Eagle County that now allow smoking – including businesses in unincorporated El Jebel – will have to pull up the ashtrays.The commissioners last year asked voters for permission to pass a smoking ban after Avon town officials and a group of local high school students asked for a ballot issue. That ballot question passed with more than 72 percent of the vote. County officials got to work on creating the law right after the election.Jennifer Corrigan of the Colorado Tobacco Education and Prevention Alliance called Eagle County’s law one of the toughest in the nation. “Including lift lines and ski lifts is unique, as far as I know,” Corrigan said.But the ban on outdoor smoking – within 25 feet of restaurant patios, skate parks and other areas – drew some criticism from a local restaurant owner.”We have foreign guests who smoke who we’re alienating totally,” said Jeff Forbes, owner of the Coyote Cafe in Beaver Creek. “People should be able to go outside.”Eventually, Forbes said, some people may stop coming to the valley.Commissioner Tom Stone disagreed even though outdoor smoking was part of the ban he said he wrestled with.”I finally decided in my mind this was the right way to go,” Stone said. “I like being outside, and that’s where smokers have been pushed. That forces me inside when I’d rather be outside.”I think it will be OK,” Stone said. “People will learn to live with it.”But if enforcing the ban is necessary, it might take a while to get an officer to the scene of an illegal light-up. Eagle County Sheriff Joe Hoy complained to the commissioners that his office wasn’t involved in writing the new law.”I can tell you this will be the last thing my deputies do,” Hoy said.But one of the leaders of a drive to impose a smoking ban in Summit County said enforcement shouldn’t be a problem.”We’ve found this is largely self-enforcing,” said Don Parsons of Smoke Free Summit County. “Most of the enforcement is done by patrons of bars and restaurants, not the authorities.”All three commissioners apologized to Hoy for not involving his office in drafting the new law. Despite those complaints, there was little to stop the feel-good atmosphere in the meeting room.”We all really applaud your efforts on this,” Corrigan said.EAGLE COUNTY SMOKING BANWhere it applies: Everywhere in the county besides the towns.That includes: El Jebel, Beaver Creek, Edwards, Vail Mountain, Eagle-Vail.Whats exempt: Private homes, 10 percent of hotel rooms.Whats included: Indoor and outdoor dining and drinking areas, 90 percent of hotel rooms, lift lines, ski lifts, skate parks, grandstands at the fairgrounds and more.When it takes effect: In 60 days.Who enforces it? The Eagle County Sheriffs Office and the Eagle County Environmental Health Department.

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