Testimonials from Restaurant and Bar Owners

Commissioner/Representative Linstrom About Lessons Learned in Summit County


Colorado State Representative

Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners

Dear Commissioners

After serving nearly ten years as Summit County Commissioner, on July 8, 2004 I was appointed to fill the vacancy for House District 56 Representative. As Summit County Commissioner, I considered the passing of a countywide smoking ban in all public places including bars and restaurants as one of my major accomplishments. Summit County was the first Colorado County to pass a ban in both the unincorporated and incorporated areas.

Recent media coverage of Jefferson County residentsí support for smoke-free laws prompts me to congratulate you and urge you on to the next step. An approval rating of 68% for laws making all workplaces and public places, including restaurants, is very clear: your constituents would support the enactment of a strong smoke-free law in unincorporated Jefferson County. The fact that four Jefferson County municipalities also support such laws, and would include bars in the law, makes it even clearer that you would be supported in enacting a comprehensive law that would leave no worker unprotected.

As a former Summit County Commissioner I can say with authority that enacting an ordinance to protect workers and the public from secondhand smoke has been one of the most politically responsible actions we had taken as a board of county commissioners. This decision has been good for the health and the economy of unincorporated Summit County and has prompted each of our countyís municipalities to enact smoke-free ordinances.

I want to share some of the lessons learned in Summit County to help you address the issues you may be considering:

- Be prepared to have people threaten you with recall and tell you that the world will end if they cannot have smoking in their business. None of this has happened.

- None of the towns supported the ban in the beginning but after a ballot referendum that passed by over 65% of the voters, they decided to pass an ordinance at the same time as the county.

- It is much better to pass an ordinance than to go through an election, particularly because this is a health and safety issue which is appropriately handled by the elected officials. Our ballot issue was non-binding and advisory.

- There should not be any exemptions to the law. Boulder is now finding out that they have a very weak law that allows exemptions for ventilation systems. Pushing for exemptions, including the allowance of ventilation, is a ploy by the tobacco industry in an attempt to avoid a decrease in smoking. The people you are trying to protect are the workers. The workers will still have to deal with any exemptions to the law. Itís really about worker health and the publicís health -donít compromise on this because of unsubstantiated fears from some business owners.

- We added enforcement in the regulation but in reality, the law is self-enforcing. The patrons will not allow someone to smoke and will tell him or her to stop if they light up. I have said that it is the blue haired person with a large purse who will do the enforcing.

- There have not been any downturns in business since the ban. People will go outside to smoke and that is what they are doing. Butts on the ground are an issue in some places so they must provide somewhere to dispose of them.

- We all know that a Colorado state law prohibiting smoking in all public places and workplaces is not likely to happen. It is up to the local governments to take action. There are seven states that ban smoking now including New York and California (imagine that) but Colorado will probably not ever be one of them. Even so, in every state that has passed a state-wide smoke-free law, numerous local laws were passed first, and played an essential part in creating the support needed for a state-wide law.

- Promoting your county/community as a smoke-free community will likely bring new visitors, customers and residents to your community. We have seen communities start to market the fact that smoking is not allowed. There were some concerns about our foreign visitors but we found out that Canada had done this a long time ago and their business increased. Whistler was the number one ski area in the world last year and they banned smoking many years ago.

Please consider this important step to make Jefferson County even better.

I will make myself available if you would like me to come down for a work session or further discussions about our experience.

Best Regards,

Gary Lindstrom


Colorado House District 56