On the lifts, smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em | AspenTimes.com

On the lifts, smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em

SNOWMASS ” Vail and Beaver Creek still hold the distinction of being the only resorts in the state where skiers and riders cannot legally light up on open-air chairlifts.

Snowmass Village passed an ordinance Monday night that bans smoking tobacco on most outdoor public land. The new regulation prohibits skiers and riders from smoking while waiting in lift lines or in unloading areas. However, it doesn’t target smoking on chairlifts, said lawyer Arnie Mordkin, the councilman who wrote the ordinance.

Snowmass Village’s town boundaries cover a huge share of the Snowmass ski area, including most of the lower chairlifts. An ordinance banning smoking in all public places could have snuffed smoking on chairlifts.

John Wilkinson, a councilman who pushed for passage of the ordinance, said he had hoped to eliminate smoking on chairlifts because of the nuisance and health implications of secondhand smoke.

When someone lights up on a chair ahead, “You might as well be sitting right next to them,” Wilkinson said.

Mordkin said he took a cautious approach with the language in the proposed ordinance because he wanted to create something the council majority would support. The board passed the expansion of the smoking ban by a four-to-one vote. Targeting smoking on chairlifts could have jeopardized the outcome, Mordkin said.

Besides, he asked, how could a ban be enforced on chairlifts?

Eagle County government in March 2006 passed a “smoke-free’ measure that includes a ban on smoking on chairlifts and gondolas. Vail Mountain posted signs along its lift lines and at on-mountain restaurants informing customers about the Eagle County regulation, Vail Mountain communications manager Jen Brown said Tuesday. Beaver Creek follows the same rules. Enforcement falls in the jurisdiction of the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Brown said.

Eagle County deputies focus on educating people about the regulation rather than issuing citations, regardless of the location, said department spokeswoman Kim Andree. She was unaware of deputies issuing tickets, at the ski areas or anywhere else, for smoking in a prohibited place.

The Aspen Skiing Co. talked – briefly – about enacting its own ban on smoking on chairlifts last season, but decided against the step, Skico Senior Vice President David Perry said in a recent interview. Enforcement was a major hurdle, he said.

Skico tells skiers and riders to refrain from smoking on the gondolas at Aspen Mountain and Snowmass. Smoking was banned at the mountain restaurants even before a state law took effect last year.

Perry said complaints about smokers on chairlifts are few and far between. He would like to interpret that to mean smokers mind their manners and light up only when they don’t affect other people.

Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com.

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