Smoking Ban Data Sought by Denver Board of Environmental health
Nov. 15--The Denver Board of Environmental Health wants to know the economic impact of a possible smoking ban in city restaurants and bars before considering new laws.
A coalition of anti-tobacco groups, called Smoke Free Denver, wants the City Council to amend its 1993 smoking ordinance to ban smoking. The group could put the issue before voters this spring if there's no council support.
The city's Environmental Protection Division will have two community meetings to gather public comment.
Health board members said Thursday that research also should include economic reports from states that have smoking bans -- including California, Massachusetts and Florida, which approved a ban last week.
"I want to know the economic impact of that ban," said board member Leo Goto, a restaurant owner. "Especially in Florida because of its high tourism."
National studies, including ones done in Massachusetts, found that smoke-free ordinances do not damage restaurant business.
But the Colorado Restaurant Association said Denver will lose customers to the suburbs if a ban is imposed.
Denver requires restaurants with 25 or more seats to provide no-smoking sections, but there are no requirements for walls or ventilation to prevent the smoke from spreading throughout the eateries. Denver bars do not have smoking restrictions.
Celia VanDerLoop, acting director of the city's Environmental Protection Division, has invited all Denver restaurant owners to attend the upcoming community meetings.
The city's smoking laws will be discussed from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Nov. 26 at the Washington Park Recreation Center and from 6-9 p.m. Dec. 5 at St. Dominic Catholic Church.
Board member Janine Pryor also wants to hear from fast-food restaurants such as McDonalds and Wendy's that have banned smoking from their establishments for years.
"They've been through the process, and I would like to hear their life experiences," she said.
In addition, Pryor wants an update about how other cities, including El Paso, have implemented a ban.
The comments from the public hearings will be presented to the health board on Dec. 10. The board will then decide whether to recommend a change in the smoking ordinance to the council.