Council inclined to limit smoking in downtown Glenwood Springs | PostIndependent.com

Council inclined to limit smoking in downtown Glenwood Springs

John Lee presented this photo to Glenwood Springs City Council Thursday of a dustpan full of cigarette butts to illustrate how many he typically sweeps up from in front of his Providence Apothecary shop every couple of days.
Courtesy photo |

A likely ordinance restricting outdoor smoking in downtown Glenwood Springs could take the form of an all-out ban, limit smoking to late-night hours or direct people who want to smoke to designated areas.

Those were some of the ideas offered during an initial discussion Thursday night around the notion of enacting a smoking ordinance that could also include city parks and other public spaces.

In any case, City Council was unanimous in wanting to do something to control what has surfaced as one of the myriad concerns around improving people’s perceptions about downtown Glenwood as a place for visitors and residents alike to hang out and enjoy.

“This is a hard one to wrestle with because there is such a thing as personal freedom that we have to respect,” Councilman Leo McKinney said in defense of a person’s right to smoke if they so choose.

But, where people exercise that right and how it impacts others who don’t smoke is something the council can and should weigh in on, he and other council members said.

McKinney said the issue also ties in with renewed concerns about an increase in the local vagrant population, as well as the public use of marijuana since that substance has become legal in Colorado.

“If we’re also talking about finding ways to deter vagrancy, this might do a little bit to alleviate some of that,” McKinney said.

A smoking ban also means police would not have to distinguish on visual contact between someone smoking a cigarette in public, which is now legal, or marijuana, which is still illegal for consumption anywhere but on private property.

Councilor Kathryn Trauger said she also struggles with the personal freedom aspect of it.

But a ban or other reasonable limitation “makes enforcement easier,” she said in relation to state laws that require bar and restaurant patrons to step 15 feet away from the main entrance before lighting up.

“Quite honestly we have a trash problem as much as a smoking problem,” Trauger said of the large number of cigarette butts that end up on downtown sidewalks.

John Lee, who has the Providence Apothecary shop in the 700 block of Cooper Avenue, agreed. He presented a photo to council of a dustpan full of cigarette butts, which he said is what he sweeps up every couple of days from the sidewalk outside his store.

Council agreed to have city staff compile information from other communities that have enacted similar smoking bans or restrictions and offer some options for Glenwood Springs to consider.

Meanwhile, some downtown-area residents who showed up for the discussion have their own ideas as to what form a city ordinance might take.

Lisa Newman, herself a smoker, suggested that council designate parts of the downtown alleys as smoking areas.

“If you go downtown to Doc’s or the Springs, it’s common to see 20 people outside smoking, mostly late at night,” she said, also suggesting the city consider limiting outdoor smoking to nighttime bar hours after 11 p.m. or so.

“People who drink, they smoke,” Newman said. “If you don’t provide them a place to do it, you are restricting their freedoms. It shouldn’t be hard to route those people somewhere to be able to smoke.”

Another downtown-area resident, Gerry Vanderbeek, said that, short of a smoking ban, restaurants and bars should have a receptacle outside for people to be able to extinguish and dispose of their cigarette butts.

“The smoking does bother me,” he said. “I’m all for personal freedoms, and if people want to kill themselves, let ‘em. But they should clean up after themselves.”


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