On Dec. 17, 2002, in a meeting that did not adjourn until 12:40 a.m., the Fort Collins City Council passed an ordinance that will prohibit smoking in many places around the city, including many area restaurants.
The smoking ban prohibits smoking in all city buildings and vehicles, places of employment, public places and within 20 feet of any other smoke-free area.
Many Fort Collins restaurants and bars will be affected by this smoking ban. The only ones not affected are those restaurants and bars that earn less than 25 percent of their gross income from the sale of food and non-alcoholic drinks.
Additional facilities not affected by the smoking ban include designated smoking areas in bingo facilities and bowling alleys, private residences, as long as they are not being used as care facilities, as many as 25 percent of guest rooms at hotels, motels and other such lodging facilities, retail tobacco stores, portions of an establishment used for private functions, not open to the public and outdoor places of employment.
Employers are also required to provide a smoke-free workplace for all their employees and are responsible for posting the appropriate signs to make citizens aware of smoking and non-smoking areas.
The ordinance is set to go into effect Oct. 1, 2003. Violations of the law are punishable by a fine or imprisonment.
The council made its decision based on evidence about the negative health effects of secondhand smoke.
Many area residents and business owners spoke in favor of and in opposition to the ordinance during the two council meetings, on Nov.19 and Dec. 17, at which the issue was discussed.
Area bar and restaurant owners and supporters were worried about the effect the ordinance might have on their businesses.
Peter Meersman, president of the Colorado Restaurant Association, urged the council to prohibit smoking in restaurants, but to allow it in their competitor establishments, establishments that earn less than 25 percent of their revenue from food sales.
Meersman was concerned because smoking will still be allowed in bars and restaurants outside city limits. He said association members do not want to lose customers to establishments that are not subject to the ordinance. According to Meersman, this would cause a decrease in sales tax revenue, a decrease in staff and it would cause more places to go out of business.
Donivan Glassburn, owner of Bingo Planet, also expressed his concern and noted that 78.8 percent of his customers are smokers. Glassburn said he was worried about the possible impact of the ordinance on charitable bingo events. He recommended that bingo parlors be exempt from the ordinance completely.
Once the law goes into effect, violations can be reported to Fort Collins City Manager John Fischbach. A complete copy of the ordinance can be found on the Fort Collins government website at http://fcgov.com/airquality/pdf/smoking-ordinance.pdf.