Since 1987, Fort Collins City Code has restricted smoking in certain public places. In May 2002, City Council began considering a new, stricter smoking code that would prohibit smoking in restaurants and bars located within the City’s limits. Before City Council and Mayor Ray Martinez made a final determination on adoption of such a code, they wanted to know what the public thought. They asked the City staff to seek public opinion about increasing local smoking regulations. The Natural Resources Department executed an intensive public outreach process to educate citizens about the impact of a new ordinance, as well as gather and document citizen input.
In an effort to reach multiple audiences, the City employed a diverse range of communications tools. Comment opportunities were available on the Internet, in paper form, a dedicated phone line, local cable television, a statistically valid survey, and through specific outreach meetings for stakeholders and special interest groups. Throughout the public outreach process, the City remained neutral while systematically gathering information from opponents and advocates of the proposed new smoking code. The result was unbiased reporting of results to Council. In November 2002, the Fort Collins City Council voted to amend the City’s existing smoking ordinance to reflect stricter smoking regulations, specifically prohibiting smoking in restaurants and bars.