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Longmont Downtown Development Authority Considers Outdoor Smoking Bans

November 24, 2018

Markie Davis smokes a cigarette while walking in the east alley on his way to the library on Wednesday.

Smoking survey

The Longmont Downtown Development Authority’s online smoking survey is available through a link on the organization’s Cigarette Litter Prevention Program web page, tinyurl.com/y9pyn7z8 or on the survey site at tinyurl.com/yb62cso8T .

Longmont’s Downtown Development Authority is considering whether to seek City Council adoption of restrictions against smoking outside of public and privately owned properties in the city’s central business district.

To that end, the Longmont Downtown Development Authority is conducting an online survey to gauge how visitors to downtown feel about cigarette litter, smoking and public health issues related to smoking, according to Kimberlee McKee, the authority’s executive director.

McKee said the downtown smoking survey — available at tinyurl.com/yb62cso8 — will be open through the end of the month.

It asks whether people have had “problems with smoking or second-hand smoke in downtown Longmont,” whether they think smoking restrictions would have an impact on their “Downtown Longmont experience,” and whether they would support “some outdoor restrictions on smoking in public areas.”

People taking the survey are being asked about possible outdoor smoking bans in specific locations, including:

• The Main Street sidewalks between First and Longs Peak avenues.

• The breezeways between the east and west sides of the 300, 400, 500 and 600 blocks Main Street and the alleys behind those blocks.

• The alleys behind the 300, 400, 500 and 600 blocks of Main Street.

• Everywhere within the Downtown Development Authority district’s boundaries. That includes properties on either side of Terry Street on the west, Longs Peak Avenue on the north, either side of Kimbark Street on the east, and either side of First Avenue on the south. A southeast portion of the district extends to Martin Street between First and Third avenues.

People also can suggest other downtown areas where they think smoking should be prohibited. Or, they can check a box saying they would not support outdoor smoking restrictions anywhere downtown.

Survey participants are being asked, in the event downtown Longmont smoking restrictions were to be enacted, whether they believe there should be designated areas where downtown Longmont employees and visitors are allowed to smoke — and if so, where.

Business owners in the Downtown Development Authority are being surveyed separately about possible downtown outdoor smoking bans, McKee said.

When asked whether any businesses have objected to the possibility of such prohibitions, she said the authority has not had “people come in and express strong concerns.”

McKee said some employers have suggested, however, that outdoor areas be made available for employees who do smoke — designated locations that are “a reasonable distance” from public sites immediately outside those employees’ workplaces.

Matt Deakin, owner of Public Smoke Shop, a smoking accessories store at 341 Main St., had not heard of the possible ban, and in an email Wednesday wrote, “I do believe there is already no smoking downtown, just not enforced,” referring to the law against smoking within a 15-foot radius of a building’s entrance.

“As for the effect it would have on my business,” Deakin wrote, it “should be minimal as we do not really do a lot of tobacco sales” in comparison to the rest of the items sold in the store.

The public survey about downtown smoking does not specifically ask about restricting vaping from electronic cigarettes, as well as possibly restricting smoking in general, but “I do believe that we would consider both of those things,” McKee said.

She said the Downtown Development Authorityboard of directors is expected to consider the results of the surveys during a December meeting and discuss whether to ask city council to adopt some sort of smoking ban or bans.

McKee said that while the board has not yet taken a formal position on possible prohibitions, it was “very supportive of getting the survey data.”

She said Boulder County Public Health also has supported the survey process and expressed a commitment to help the city and the authority with any restrictions that might be enacted.

In August, city council approved an ordinance imposing no-smoking zones outside several city government buildings.

That outdoor smoking ban covers the city block bounded by Third Avenue, Kimbark Street, Fourth Avenue and Emery Street, where the Longmont Public Library and Civic Center are located.

The ordinance — which applies to electronic smoking devices as well as tobacco products — also created no-smoking areas outside the Senior Center at 910 Longs Peak Ave. and the St. Vrain Memorial Building at 700 Longs Peak Ave..

Previously, the city prohibited any smoking within 15 feet of public entrances to those and other government buildings — the same as the Colorado Clean Air Act state law that applies to all public entrances to publicly or privately owned buildings.

Assistant Longmont City Manager Shawn Lewis said that while he had no data about the number of warnings or tickets issued since that ordinance took effect, “we do feel like it’s worked fairly well.”

Lewis said the prohibition has eliminated congregations of smokers that once gathered on the lawn or sidewalks outside the library — groups that library patrons complained presented a gauntlet for anyone entering or leaving that building.

If Longmont were to expand its downtown-area smoking ban outside selected municipal buildings to include other public and private properties within the Downtown Development Authority, it would join at least one other Boulder County city in imposing such a prohibition.

Boulder City Council in 2015 approved an outdoor smoking ban that prohibits lighting up in the downtown business district, city parks or open space areas, or within 25 feet of bus stops, multi-use paths and building entrances.

Boulder’s 2015 action, which applies to electronic cigarettes as well as tobacco products, was the latest in a series of bans that started with a prohibition on smoking on the Pearl Street Mall in 2012.

The Longmont Downtown Development Authorityhas already taken steps to try to address smokers throwing their cigarette butts into planters, onto sidewalks or parking lots or in curbside gutters.

The authority spent part of a $5,000 grant from the Keep America Beautiful Cigarette Litter Prevention Program to install side-mounted cigarette receptacles on trash cans at 16 locations — June installations that officials report have resulted in a 40 percent decrease in cigarette litter near the receptacles.

Contact Staff Writer John Fryar at 303-684-5211 or jfryar@times-call.com or twitter.com/jfryartc

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