Cracking Down on Lighting Up in Public

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

In 2006, the state government placed a ban on smoking in public places. But the Grand Junction Police Department says two years later, some people still haven't got the message and that they're stepping up efforts to remind people.

From June 20-June 22, six people were arrested and ticketed for smoking in public places. Officials say it's all part of renewed effort to crack down on people who choose to light up in downtown Grand Junction.

Longtime Colorado resident Valor Dodd says he remembers what life was like before 2006, when he would always see people smoking in restaurants, parks, and other places he liked to visit.

"It was pretty annoying," said Dodd. "We'd alway end up moving."

He says life after March of 2006 is much better.

"It doesn't bother us as much," said Dodd. "We're more apt to come to places that might have had smokers before."

That's exactly why the Grand Junction Police Department says it's stepping up efforts to come down on smokers who are ignoring the laws.

"We have our laws in place for a reason," said police spokesperson Kate Porras. "We want to keep Grand Junction a beautiful area."

It's a job left up to the police department's impact team, a group of bike officers whose only responsibility is to patrol the downtown area looking for law breakers.

"We have officers that are able to proactively go out and fight these kinds of crimes," said Porras.

Officials say as more and more people spend time enjoying the summer weather, you can bet that there will be more and more impact officers on the lookout.

"With the nice weather, they're out and about and able to really do a lot of good work," said Porras.

Officials say getting caught lighting up in public is no light matter. Violating a municipal smoking ordinance is a misdemeanor.

"There is a mandatory court appearance and the judge will set the fine," said Porras.

There are some exceptions to the ban. Smoking is allowed in restaurants only on outdoor patios that are at least 15 feet away from the entrance. Smoking is also allowed in specified hotel rooms, tobacco stores, and inside of your personal vehicle.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Dennis Location: Grand Junction on Jun 24, 2008 at 11:43 AM
    I, for one, will sleep MUCH better at night, knowing we have teams of "impact officers" out on bicycles looking for cigarette smokers. That is definitely the kind of priority I want from my local law enforcement agencies. By the way, how's that search for Paige Birgfeld going?
  • by pegasus Location: Grand Junction on Jun 24, 2008 at 10:41 AM
    Speaking for myself and "my fellow smokers" here at work, NONE of us understood the ordinance to prohibit smoking in public. We understood the ordinance to state that you had to be 15 feet away from a public entrannce, so is it now to be understood that lighting up in public ANYWHERE is against the law?? I think this needs more publicity if that is the case because I don't believe that is how most smokers understood it.
  • by veronika Location: grd jct on Jun 23, 2008 at 09:46 PM
    I think its hard ya!but its also haRDER FOR ALL OF US THAT ARE FROM THESE LOCATIONS WE CANT FIND ANY RENALS EVEN FOR US CUZ ALL THE PEOPLE FROM OUT OF TOWN & IT SEEMS LIKE THE OIL WORKERS ARE PERFERD CUZ THE MONEY THEY MAKE BUT NO ALL OF US WORK ON THE RIGGS.PEOPLE WHO HAVE APTS OR HOUSES HAVE TO TAKE THAT INTO CONSIDERATION.
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