Controversy Over Smoking Ban

By: Katherine Cook Email
By: Katherine Cook Email

After 8 months, some Southern Colorado bars are ignoring Colorado's smoking ban, and letting customers light up inside their business. It's a trend that is angering many who choose to enforce the law, like Phantom Canyon General Manager, Robin Hubbard.

"I don't think they're playing fair," said Hubbard, pointing to businesses such as D.J.'s Bar & Grill, where employers are collecting money to help pay fines that their smoking customers will face.

"I think they think they're going to have the advantage of letting them smoke," said Hubbard. "But you know, there's a law, and it was made for a reason. I think it's important that we abide by it."

In Denver, Billy's Inn Bar owner, James Vonfeldt, says, he'll warn his smoking customers about the law, but that's it.

"There's just no way I'm going to do it, I'm not going to enforce it," said Vonfeldt. He adds, if it weren't for his smoking customers, he'd be out of business. Vonfeldt says it's a far cry from what he says lawmakers led him to believe it would be.

"They said non-smokers would inundate me with business... right now, there are only 2 non-smokers here."

At Jack Quinn's in Colorado Springs, manager Tara Hart says she empathizes with Vonfeldt, but says behavior like his sends a mixed message to her customers and puts bar employees in a tough spot.

"It makes it harder on us to enforce the law," said Hart. "You run into confrontation from people who just came from bars where they were allowed to smoke, and they wonder why they can't smoke here."

Some bars in Colorado Springs that have been allowing customers to smoke, say they plan to fight any fine in court. They believe it will cost the state more to prosecute the fines, than the fines are worth.

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