Snowmass councilman calls for ban on outdoor smoking | AspenTimes.com

Snowmass councilman calls for ban on outdoor smoking

Chad Abraham
Mark Fox/The Aspen Times Josh Opp enjoys a smoke on the patio of McStorlie's Pub in Aspen on Friday, the last day before a statewide smoking ban went into affect. Area smokers could have even fewer options if a Snowmass Village town councilman helps the passage of an outdoor smoking ban there.
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John Wilkinson doesn’t mince words when asked his opinion of cigarettes: “I hate them.”The Snowmass Village councilman next week will try to reignite support for an outdoor smoking ban. His proposal would prohibit puffing at the concerts on Fanny Hill, parks, playgrounds, outside the new recreation center and restaurants, and on chairlifts. A similar proposal last year failed to gain traction, Wilkinson said.”The reason is for the health, safety and welfare of the guests and residents,” he said matter-of-factly. “We’re a family-friendly resort.”There have been too many incidences of secondhand smoke affecting nonsmokers at the free concerts at Fanny Hill and at the rodeo, for instance, Wilkinson said.”It’s time we looked at banning smoking in any of those places,” he said.

Chuck Zeitz, owner of the Wildcat Cafe in Snowmass Village, was equally succinct about Wilkinson’s plan.”It’s asinine,” he said, noting that smoking “is a legal activity in this country.”His restaurant has an outdoor patio that serves as a smoking section. Taking that away will anger customers, Zeitz said. “If there is a true demand for a nonsmoking area, business will react to that demand and people will open restaurants that don’t allow smoking on the patio. And nonsmokers would flock to them,” he said. “The fact of the matter is, there isn’t a business demand for it. And so they’re trying to manufacture it artificially.”Zeitz called the proposed ban a “typical big-government, socialist idea. I believe in personal freedom.”

Asked if his proposal wouldn’t infringe upon individual liberties, Wilkinson cited America’s top medical official.”The surgeon general of the United States says secondhand smoke is definitely detrimental to the health and welfare of people,” he said. “The government regulates people’s health and welfare. I feel that’s our duty as elected officials.”Several village residents have asked him about enacting a ban. But his interest in nixing secondhand smoke is also personal.”My uncle died of lung disease. I’ve had numerous people in my family suffer from the effects of smoking. My grandfather had emphysema,” he said. “If people want to smoke, that’s fine. But don’t do it where there’s other people who don’t like it.”Wilkinson’s proposal will follow a statewide ban on smoking in restaurants and bars that began Saturday. Colorado is the 13th state to enact such a proscription.

If fellow council members approve his proposal, Wilkinson said it wouldn’t mean an outright prohibition on outdoor smoking. Communities with similar bans that he has studied, such as Santa Rosa, Calif., have designated smoking areas. He suspects there are cities in Colorado with outdoor smoking bans, too, though he couldn’t name any.”There’s got to be a reasonableness and a place where people can smoke,” Wilkinson said.And the smoking ban would involve signs more than fines, he said.”I’m not going to ask the smoking police to go out and start enforcing it,” Wilkinson said. “It’s a public-awareness thing.”Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is chad@aspentimes.com


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