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Fort Collins Considers Extending Smoking Ban Outdoors

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A man smoking in Fort Collins (credit: CBS)

A man smoking in Fort Collins (credit: CBS)

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – The city of Fort Collins is considering an all-out smoking ban starting at restaurant patios all the way to parks and trails. It’s a controversial conversation city council members are mulling.

Right now current regulations ban smoking in public buildings, restaurants and businesses, but what the city wants to do is clean up the air outside, and that’s sparking a new debate for smokers and business owners.

“For a lot of health risks, as well as it’s not appetizing to have your food and smoking right there,” a restaurant patron said.

A new proposal could expand the current no-smoking laws to outdoor dining patios and within 20 feet of any restaurant area.

“It will affect our customers but in a good way, I think,” said Shea Rodriguez, El Monte Grill Manager. “They’ll know that if they’re sitting outside they won’t be sitting around smelling smoke.”

Transit areas and bus benches could be included in the smoking ban umbrella, along with parks, trails and open walking areas, like Old Town Square.

“Now the question becomes, ‘How much further do we expand that in outdoor areas?’ You know, do we go into our trails and our parks? Do we look at special events?” Mayor Karen Weitkunat said.

If it passes, Old Town staples like Al’s News Stand could be affected.

“We’ve been in business since 1947 and … any of our tobacco products is a big part of our business,” said Pam Orzell, Al’s New Stand Manager.

She worries an all-out ban would drive out business, and she’s not alone.

“I think smokers are obviously going to be angry, especially around the bars that really invite smoking,” Black Bottle Brewery owner Sean Nook said.

Despite the 25 percent of Americans who still smoke, city leaders in Fort Collins say majority rules.

The city council will go back to discussion on the new smoking ban ordinance in October.

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