Smokers still lighting up despite Church Street smoking ban

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Smoking has been banned on Burlington's Church Street Marketplace and surrounding streets since 2014, but that doesn't stop people from doing it.

Business owners and most of the people on the street seem to support the ban but still see people smoking.

"I love the smoking ban. I backed it 100 percent when it went to the City Council and I continue to back it today," said Melissa Desautels, the owner of Dear Lucy and Whim Boutique.

Despite signs placed along Church Street banning people from smoking, she says she still sees it on a daily basis.

"It's uncomfortable to tell someone you're breaking the law," said Desautels.

The ordinance is supposed to be enforced throughout the Church Street Marketplace. That includes all of Church Street, parts of Pearl, Cherry, Bank, College and Main streets.

Burlington resident Justin Morrill was smoking when we caught up with him. He says he doesn't support the ban.

"I really don't think it's a big deal as long as you're not walking in front of businesses. As far as walking up and down Church Street, I feel as though it's really petty," he said.

We caught his friends on camera smoking while we interviewed Morrill. They had no problem lighting up when the camera was on.

According to the ordinance, if caught once, it's a warning. A second time, it's a fine of $50. After that, it's $100.

While the smokers we saw didn't have a problem lighting up, others we talked to wish they would put it out -- they support the ban.

"I think it's great," said Ira Musty of Burlington.

"It really benefits tourists who are enjoying the space," said Melanie Katz of Burlington.

"My fellow business owners who I talk to all the time definitely support the smoking ban," said Desautels.

One of the concerns with the smoking ban was that it would deter people from wanting to shop and be on Church Street. Most of the people that we spoke to say they haven't seen any evidence of that.