Pitkin County Commissioners express concerns over smoking, tobacco ban

Apr 22, 2015

Pitkin County's Health and Human Services is partnering with Aspen Valley Hospital on a smoking and tobacco ban. The policy is still being worked out.
Credit Creative Commons/Flickr/madeleinehearn

The Pitkin County Commissioners aired several concerns about a plan to make the Aspen Valley Hospital and Pitkin County Health and Human Services campus smoke and tobacco free. 

The policy would apply to outdoor areas around the sprawling campus off Castle Creek Road. Besides the hospital and county building, the ban would apply to Whitcomb Terrace, hospital employee housing and Senior Services. Right now, most areas allow smoking 15 feet from a door.

At a meeting Tuesday Commissioner Patti Clapper sympathized with family of hospital patients who may need to smoke to release stress.

"I just don’t think it’s acceptable to say you can walk out onto the bike trail or along the highway because that’s the only place you can smoke. We’re going to have trash issues, there’s the risk of wildfires along there."

She suggested creating a space for smokers near the Health and Human Services building.

County staff is partnering with the hospital on the ban. Nan Sundeen heads Health and Human Services. She says the ban may include cessation classes to help smokers quit.

"Our hope collectively is to create a healthy environment for all the people who come on the hospital campus."

Of the dozen nonprofits housed in the Health and Human Services building, Sundeen says all are on board except for a homeless shelter. The director there fears the policy would drive people away. If the commissioners approve the ban for the county building, the entire campus may be smoke-free by September.