Tobacco Education Center

Aspen Enforcement Testimonial (2002)
Decmber 6, 2002

Dear Ms. Tegan,

I am writing to provide the Colorado Tobacco Education and Prevention Alliance with information about the City of Aspenís Clean Indoor Air Act, which limits smoking in public places. Aspenís regulation has been in effect since 1985 and covers both places of employment and public places like restaurants.

After our ordinance had been in effect for several months, the Aspen City Council asked our department to conduct a survey of both restaurants and retail stores to determine whether the law had had any effect on business. The survey found no effect on business in either retail stores or restaurants. In fact, sales in both increased substantially at that time.

Aspen's ordinance prohibits smoking in many public places including dining areas, grocery stores, and service lines. While our ordinance allows smoking to still occur at bar counters, most restaurants in Aspen have voluntarily eliminated smoking at bar counters as well. They have done this for three reasons: 1) bar tenders pressed restaurant owners to discontinue smoking at bars because they did not want to be exposed to smoke, 2) restaurant owners were very concerned about future liability issues related to claims from bar tenders who developed cancer after being exposed to secondhand smoke, and 3) public acceptance of smoking limitations has increased so much that restaurant owners did not perceive this as a step that would negatively affect their business.

Our ordinance has always been enforced by the Environmental Health Department. The ordinance has been almost completely self-enforcing. The only enforcement required of the Environmental Health Department has been checking to make sure restaurants have signs posted something done during our routine food service inspections. There is no additional staff time required. The required signs keep restaurant managers from having to confront patrons. Over the years our ordinance has been in effect, we have had about half a dozen calls from places of employment, which have been dealt with by calls to the owners informing them of the law's requirements.

Please feel free to give me a call if you have additional questions about our ordinance.


Lee E. Cassin, Director

City of Aspen Environmental Health Department

Lee E. Cassin, Director

City of Aspen Environmental Health Department

130 So. Galena St.

Aspen, CO 81611


fax (970)920-5074