A ban on smoking in public places, such as bus stops, playgrounds and picnic pavilions, might go into effect as soon as Dec. 5.
The City Council is scheduled to adopt the ordinance Nov. 20. The law then would be effective 10 days after advertised in The Durango Herald on Nov. 25.
Smokers could be fined $100 for a first offense and $200 to $300 for consecutive fines in the same calendar year. Proceeds would go to anti-tobacco and smoking-cessation efforts.
When it goes into effect, the ban still could come as a surprise to smokers because City Manager Ron LeBlanc said at a recent meeting that he is not sure when signs for the ban would be posted in public areas.
City Councilor Sweetie Marbury had asked about the signs so she can approach smokers who are lighting up in public places such as the Animas River Trail.
Mayor Doug Lyon said he thought approaching smokers about the ban was a “little intrusive” but Marbury was free to do what she wanted.
The mayor originally opposed the inclusion of the river trail because he doubted whether smokers in remote spots would bother people on the trail.
But Lyon agreed to the river trail for the sake of promoting health. He said the law’s intent really is about setting a good example as opposed to eliminating the danger of secondhand smoke.
Lyon said if the city wanted to go after every public menace, there would be “seat belts” on chairs.
The proposed ban applies to city-owned or operated property with exceptions for Hillcrest Golf Course and outdoor religious ceremonies performed by Native Americans.
Sidewalks are not included in the city ban, but the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act already prohibits smoking within 15 feet of a business entrance, City Attorney David Smith said.
The proposal originally extended the ban to the patios of bars and restaurants, but that section was removed after protests by smokers and business owners.
San Juan Basin Health Department and other health groups have urged the council to adopt the ban.
According to the ordinance, anyone with a complaint about the ban is advised to contact the health department or the Durango Police Department.