Smoking ban, home rule on Eagle County ballot | AspenTimes.com

Smoking ban, home rule on Eagle County ballot

Scott N. Miller
Vail correspondent

NWS Smoking SM 3-17

Eagle County voters in November will choose whether to authorize a smoking ban in indoor public places and whether to begin the process of changing the county charter, which could benefit the Basalt area.

The Eagle County commissioners on Tuesday approved language for a ballot issue asking county voters to endorse a smoking ban. They also approved ballot language to form a “home rule” commission.

The vote for the smoking ban was 3-0. Commissioner Tom Stone voted against the home-rule issue, with commissioners Peter Runyon and Arn Menconi voting yes.

The smoking question wouldn’t actually ban smoking. It would authorize the commissioners to pass smoking regulations for all indoor public places, including restaurants and bars, in unincorporated parts of the county.

A smoking ban would be good news, said John Lusk, who works at the Gashouse in Edwards ” itself a nonsmoking restaurant and bar.

“It repulses me,” Lusk said. “My father died of lung cancer from smoking, and I just don’t like it.”

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But not everyone is so fully supportive.

“If it’s everywhere, I’m all for it,” said Ralph Dockery, owner of Paddy’s Sports Bar and Grill in Eagle-Vail. “But the towns have to get on board.”

Paddy’s limited smoking to the bar, and only after 9:30 p.m., at the end of 2003.

“Our bar sales dropped, and we attribute it directly to going nonsmoking,” Dockery said. “People just went somewhere else.”

Dockery said he’d like to see a statewide smoking ban so restaurants and bars everywhere are affected equally. The Colorado Restaurant Association supported a bill in the state Legislature earlier this year, Dockery said. The Colorado House of Representatives passed the bill, but it failed in the state Senate.

“I lived through this in California, and I know what happens if you piecemeal it,” he said. “It’s not good.”

County voters will also be asked to elect an 11-member “home rule” commission. That group will work on a new county charter.

The new charter could turn some county positions that are now elected ” such as treasurer, surveyor and assessor ” into appointed positions. The charter could also increase the number of commissioners from three to five, possibly giving residents of the Basalt area in Eagle County a commissioner from their area.

In Pitkin County, which has had a home rule charter for a number of years, the five commissioners represent districts, but they are elected at-large by voters. Eagle County’s commissioners also represent districts, but are elected by all county voters.