Tobacco Education Center

Boulder County Infractions Are Rare (2003)
"A lot of the smokers don't even like the smoking rooms. They'd rather go outside." Melissa Dolin

Smoking infractions few
Six people have been cited for breaking ban
By Aimee Heckel, Camera Staff Writer
November 17, 2003

The response to smoking bans in Boulder County hasn't been anything to rival Prohibition.
There aren't any "underground" smoke chambers or even any bars that risk breaking the rules, residents say. Few smokers put up a fight when asked to bring it outside, bartenders say.

"There's only one place I know where you can smoke freely in Boulder: Smoker Friendly," said Rick Marvin, 18. He said he hates the rule, but he would never break it.

Six people have been cited for violating smoking bans in Boulder, Superior and Louisville combined this year. Since Superior enacted its ordinance three years ago, it has never issued a summons. The same goes for Louisville, whose ordinance is one year old.

It's not that the ordinance isn't being enforced, said Nancy Varra, Louisville city clerk and municipal court administrator. She said smokers just have been respecting the rules.

Louisville's is the strictest ordinance in Boulder County and one of the harshest in the state. People cannot smoke in restaurants, bars or outside on restaurant patios.

Longmont passed a smoking ordinance last week that will go into effect in January. Longmont's ban is stricter than Boulder's which allows for separate, ventilated smoking rooms but not as strict as Louisville's. Outdoor patios are exempt in Longmont. But a drag indoors could cost you as much as $500.

Broomfield also recently passed a smoking ordinance that affects restaurants, bars, bowling alleys and pool halls, except those with separate rooms. The ban takes effect April 21.

The new rules have enraged some Longmont smokers, who say they have the right to choose whether and where to smoke.

"I'm strongly against any kind of laws that inhibit people from their legal freedom because, as we have seen in the past, it only takes a small erosion to become a landslide," Longmont resident Nigel Aves wrote to the City Council last month.

Boulder shared those fears in 1995 when the rules were new. Mark Kretz, manager of Laudisio Italian Restaurant, said Boulder smokers also thought "life was going to collapse, bar sales are going to go down. But it isn't true. People adjust."

Now, Kretz said, people never light up in Laudisio's dining area or patio. And only a handful of people visit the secluded "cigar room" to light up after dinner.

As Boulder residents have grown used to the rules, the number of violations has dramatically dropped, officials said. In 1998, Boulder officials heard 46 complaints, said Jay Dunlap, Boulder code enforcement supervisor. In 1999, the number was 85.

But he said last year, there were 12 complaints, comparable to this year's 15. Of those this year, six resulted in citations.

"Through education and pressure of other citizens, people are beginning to understand and even like the ordinance," Dunlap said.

Melissa Dolin, 25, said when she first moved to Boulder from the East Coast three years ago, she was shocked when a bar employee asked her to put out her cigarette.

"But now, it's funny how you get used to it," she said. "A lot of the smokers don't even like the smoking rooms. They'd rather go outside."

Contact Aimee Heckel at (303) 473-1359 or