Most Pueblo residents probably thought the smoking ban debate had been "snuffed out" for good after voters approved a new city ordinance. Instead, the issue is heating up again. Voters will now have to go to the polls to decide another aspect of the smoking ban.
In May, Pueblo voters overwhelmingly approved a strict smoking ordinance. Since then, smoking has been banned in all public buildings, including bars and restaurants. Most everyone thought the special election would end the debate. But that's not what happened.
The bar owners say they've been losing money ever since smokers were forced outside. And cigarette butts now litter the pavement outside their businesses.
"We're starting to feel the pinch, let's put it that way." Ed Courtner owns the Eagle Bar in downtown Pueblo He wants voters to pass a new ordinance that allows smoking in bars. "I hope it does, and the people who support us get out and vote to let the bars smoke," he says.
Opponents of the initial smoking ban have collected more than 2,000 signatures to put a new smoking question on the November ballot. The amended smoking ordinance would allow smoking in free-standing bars. Restaurants could also allow smoking, depending on their profit ratio between food and alcohol.
Supporters of the smoking ban say that's not what voters wanted when they cast their ballots in the special election.
The Pueblo City Council will take up this issue on Sept. 8. But the only option the members have is to send this back to the voters in November.