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Colorado Celebrates One Year Of Smoke-Free Workplaces

Armen Hareyan's picture

Smoke-Free Workplaces

Colorado is one of more than a dozen states nationwide that have enacted smoke-free workplace laws to help protect the health of all citizens.

One year after taking effect, the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act is helping residents, employees and visitors experience significantly healthier environments.

A recent study by the State Tobacco Education and Prevention Partnership found that air pollution in hospitality venues, including bars and restaurants, has improved by nearly 70 percent since the smoke-free law took effect. The most dramatic improvement was seen in bars and taverns, where air quality improved by nearly 90 percent. Overall, air quality in bars, taverns and restaurants all changed from an EPA rating of "unhealthy" to "good," meaning that the air in these locations now poses little or no health risk.

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Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in Colorado, where 17 percent of adults smoke. Smoke-free laws are proving to be an effective way to improve public health by reducing people's exposure to secondhand smoke, which has been shown to be harmful to both adults and children and causes about 53,000 deaths per year in the United States. In fact, the Surgeon General issued a report last year that concludes that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke and that eliminating smoking in indoor places protects nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke.

"One year after the smoke-free law went into effect, Coloradoans and visitors alike have benefited from healthier indoor environments," said Dr. Ned Calonge, chief medical officer for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. "We encourage everyone to continue supporting hospitality venues around the state to show their appreciation for businesses' commitment to public health."

In 2007, the Colorado legislature passed two bills concerning the smoke-free law. The first created an exemption for assisted living facilities so they can allow smoking in designated areas that are fully enclosed, ventilated and accessible only to residents and their guests. This change goes into effect on Aug. 3, 2007. The second bill rescinded the casino exemption that was included in the initial smoke-free law. As of Jan. 1, 2008, all state-licensed casinos in Colorado will be required to be smoke-free.

Colorado offers several resources to smokers who want to quit. The Colorado Quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784- 8669), is a free telephone coaching service that supports smokers through the quitting process and offers up to eight free weeks of the patch. Telephone coaching with the patch shows a 40-42 percent success rate, versus only 3 percent for Colorado smokers quitting on their own.

Colorado was the 13th state to implement a smoke-free law. Now that additional states including Arizona, Nevada and Ohio have passed smoke-free initiatives, one in two Americans lives in a place with smoke-free workplaces.