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July, 2006

"Non-Smoking Venues"

by Webmaster

The title of the article in the Spotlight section of the Saturday, July 1, 2006, Rocky Mountain News is "State Ban a breath of fresh air for music lovers" (by Mark Brown). Brown wrote that he is looking forward to sitting in the balcony of the Gothic Theater and that "fans are going to notice a huge change" at the Bluebird and Ogden theaters.

"I think (the smoking ban) is the greatest gift that the Colorado legislature could give to the citizens of Colorado." -- attributed to Doug Kauffman, Nobody in Particular Presents

I'm allergic to smoke. Even though I don't play often in venues that allow smoking, and those I've played in added air scrubbers, I'm glad to see smoking banned from the venues.

I was in a restaurant and a bar on Saturday. Both venues were smoke-free, but we had to run the gauntlet of smokers standing right outside the door. Still, it's an improvement.

My concern is based on the observations of the effect of the "Keep Right Except to Pass" law that was enacted last year. I drive 30-35,000 miles / year, mostly on interstate highways. I have yet to see a fast-lane vigilante pulled over for blocking the left lane. Cops will sit with radar guns on the side of the road and ignore the long line of folks caught behind a slow-poke in the fast lane. They'll weave through a cluster of cars behind a blockade of slow drivers, but won't pull over the slow drivers. The warning signs that used to be displayed on the changeable sign boards on the highway haven't reminded drivers to keep right for months.

So what happens? Drivers learn that the law isn't enforced, and they ignore the law. All the tax-payers' money that was spent enacting the law was a waste.

The fines for the venues who violate the smoking ban are a pittance: $200 for the first violation, increasing to a maximum of $500 for a violation. Its up to the venues to enforce the smoking ban. Venues that find their business drops because of the smoking ban will gladly pay the fines to keep their customers. That's assuming someone wants to pursue it: calling the cops and waiting for however long it takes for them to show up, and counting on the smokers staying and smoking so they can be caught in the act.

Years ago, I went to a concert at the Boulder Theater. I was in the second tier of the non-smoking section. The section was designed to be the back half of the stage-left section. A group of people moved into the first tier, sat below the "No Smoking" signs, and lit up. I asked them politely to stop smoking, or find another place to sit. They blew smoke in my face. I asked the waitress to do something. She did--she covered up the "No Smoking" sign. I left and went to the box office where I explained the situation. They gave me my money back. The did not indicate that they intended to do anything about the smokers. I took my money and left. I have never gone back there.

I have no reason to believe that this smoking ban will be effective in the long run. I hope I'm wrong.

Thanks for visiting

Note. On July 21, 2006, a radio newscast told of a "Road House" in Durango that chose to pay the fines rather than ask their customers to quit smoking. It took less than a month.

Another interesting note: I had an opportunity to talk with a Denver police officer on July 25, 2006. He admitted that he had not issued one citation for the "Keep Right Except to Pass" law.

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