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There Are Alternatives to an Outdoor Smoking Ban in Wheat Ridge

The following excerpt (http:/ is from the Channel 7 News website dated March 8, 2006:

DENVER — That’s it. The last hurdle for getting the smoking ban into law has now been passed. On Monday, Gov. Bill Owens signed legislation making Colorado the 13th state to enact a statewide smoking ban. The law takes effect July 1. House Bill 1175, sponsored by Rep. Mike May (R-Parker) and Sen. Dan Grossman (D-Denver), prohibits smoking in bars, restaurants and most workplaces.

Now let’s fast forward to 2012. The state smoking ban from 2006 eliminated most, if not all, indoor smoking except on private property such as homes or inside a private vehicle. I understand and completely agree that 2nd hand indoor smoke was, and is, a health problem. I feel for the non-smokers that are growing up in homes in which they must endure 2nd hand smoke from other smoking occupants.

Wheat Ridge has been following state law since 2006. The changes recommended by the Jefferson County Health Department and Breathe Easy Wheat Ridge would go far beyond what the State Legislature passed in 2006. The Jefferson County Heath Department and Breathe Easy Wheat Ridge are campaigning for a ban on outdoor smoking in Wheat Ridge which includes public events, public parks, open space, playgrounds, bus stops/shelters, public sidewalks, private restaurant patios, etc. Additionally, Exempla Lutheran Hospital created a “smoke free” campus a few years back. Exempla Lutheran wants the City of Wheat Ridge to enforce a no smoking policy on hospital employees if they smoke on the public sidewalk next to the hospital.

The outdoor smoking ban would require that City Council pass a new ordinance (law) to ban outdoor smoking. The new law would be enforced by the Wheat Ridge Police Department (WRPD). Penalties could be up to a year in jail and/or up to a $1000 fine. “No Smoking by Ordinance #” signs would be erected in public places and most likely private restaurant patios.

I decided to meet with resident Sarah Davis from Breathe Easy Ridge, resident and Dr. Jack Odom and Bob Doyle from the Colorado Tobacco Education and Prevention Alliance at Sunrise/Sunset for breakfast. I listened to their concerns about 2nd hand smoke and outdoor smoking bans in Wheat Ridge. I agree with them with regards to 2nd hand indoor smoke. I also told them that I cannot support an outdoor smoking ban as Mayor or as a resident. I made the following recommendations/comments:

• Increase anti-smoking education at the middle schools and high school. I support education, information and training from local health agencies which help to discourage smoking by youth.

• Let’s get voluntary compliance from smokers. Display professional “Thank You for Not Smoking” signs with facts about the dangers of smoking in our parks, playgrounds, bus stops/shelters, etc. It was also noted during the discussion that smokers in 2012 are much more respectful of non-smokers, in general.

• If someone is bothering you while they smoke in a public place, move or kindly ask them to move to a different location – It’s called two-way communication and mutual respect. We don’t need the police to handle this type of situation.

• Do not pass any new laws in Wheat Ridge that would potentially be a negative business model for our businesses with outdoor patios. They already follow state law. Some businesses in Wheat Ridge have voluntarily made their outdoor patios non-smoking, such as Right Coast Pizza at 38th & High Ct.

• Passing an outdoor smoking ban would not stop the students at Wheat Ridge High School (WRHS) from smoking at Crown Hill Park across from the school. Crown Hill is located in Jefferson County and the County does not have ban on outdoor smoking.

• Lastly, if Breathe Easy Wheat Ridge really wants this ban enacted, they need to hit the bricks and get the 3000+ petition signatures needed to put it on the 2013 ballot. Let the voters have the final say on the outdoor smoking ban – OR – Lobby the State legislature to ban outdoor smoking state wide so everyone is playing by the same rules. Right now Arvada, Golden and Lakewood all have different variations of outdoor smoking bans.

If City Council decides to pass a ban on outdoor smoking I would veto the law as your Mayor. I cannot support such a draconian law that limits citizens’ rights on such a selective basis. What’s next to ban? 32 oz. sugary drinks? Caffeine? Buttered Popcorn? Vehicles? I do not believe that residents and businesses want Wheat Ridge to turn into another New York City where the Mayor and City Council are telling you what you can cook, eat and drink.

Interesting enough, it is my humble impression that Dr. Odom understood my recommendations and thought they were a win-win. It was also noted during the discussion that smokers in 2012 are much more respectful of non-smokers, in general. The jury is still out with regards to Breathe Easy Wheat Ridge. The appearance is that the coalition still wants a law on the books and enforced by the WRPD. To quote John F. Kennedy “You cannot negotiate with people who say what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable.”

Please feel free to contact me at 303-235-2800 or email me at for more information or if you would like to discuss further.