Lum: Ban banners; ban banning |

Lum: Ban banners; ban banning

There was an article in the Aspen Daily News last week that kind of slipped under the radar instead of setting off a pyrotechnic protest lest Aspen be branded as the banning queen of Colorado.

On first reading, I thought this couldn’t be serious — this article must have slipped in from their April Fools’ edition — but it appears to be an actual proposal.

The article read, “A proposed tobacco and smoking ban on the Aspen Valley Hospital campus would cover the entire property including employee-housing units, the Basalt and Snowmass Village clinics as well as the hospital director’s home. … It covers all forms of marijuana and tobacco, vaporizers and electronic cigarettes.”

Aside from the fact that without extensive electronic surveillance, this “law” would be impossible to enforce (chewing tobacco discovered how?), it would push those terrible scofflaw residents to the cannabis edibles — the most unpredictable form of marijuana.

Just who do we think we are to be telling people what they can do in their homes — to tell the hospital director, for God’s sake, that he can’t take a toke in his own living room?

If this goes through without public screaming, you don’t even have to ask what might be next, but the words “junk food” should cause a sizable shudder because next they will be in your cupboards. For your own good, of course.

“Nan Sundeen, director of Pitkin County Health and Human Services, said the operating policy is far-reaching, but in the best interest on all involved,” the article went on. “Sundeen said that (the hospital) has wanted the ban for years, and the stars are just now aligning to make it a reality.”

What the hell does that mean, exactly — the stars are just now aligning? Was there an unadvertised reading of the tarot cards or a fateful throw of the “I Ching”?

Aspen is already high on the hypocrite list for having lots of taxable pot shops in town but no legal clubs where visitors can smoke the products — again leading to the unpredictable edibles.

But the real killer in this proposal is the proposed banning of electronic cigarettes.

You would think that the anti-smoking faction would be down on their hands and knees blessing the day the e-cigarettes came into being. Here was a product that kept the smokers happy and didn’t bother anyone with secondhand smoke or unpleasantness of any kind, but the thing of it is, it looks like smoking. It glows like a cigarette, vapor comes out of it like cigarette smoke, and they’re smack dab against it.

The anti-smoker faction has no interest in keeping smokers happy, cannot stand anything that looks like smoking and rushes in with the defense that the youth (that magic password) will be tempted, enticed and seduced by this product, which will serve as a gateway to the menace of real tobacco in actual burning cigarette form.

They haven’t even begun to test this product, but it’s being damned as dangerous anyway, just as pot (the new miracle drug) was. Is this kind of rush to judgment the model behavior we want the youth to observe and emulate?

If the hospital is concerned about the health and welfare of its clients and employees, it might consider applying its efforts to relocating the pain clinic, which is presently about 8 miles from the hospital entrance.

Su Lum is a longtime local who is supporting Torre, Mick Ireland, Bert Myrin and “yes” on Referendum 1 on the ballot. Reach her at

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