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Smoking or Non-Smoking Section? Not anymore.

Health organizations celebrate 10-year anniversary of state smoke-free law and work of local communities to do more

(July 1, 2016)

Ten years ago was the last time anyone walked into a Colorado restaurant and heard, "Would you like smoking or non-smoking?"

"Ten years ago was the last time many workers had to breathe in the dangerous chemicals in tobacco smoke as a condition of employment," said Bob Doyle of the American Lung Association and Co-Chair of the Colorado Tobacco Free Alliance (CTFA). "By making many public places and workplaces smoke-free, our residents and visitors also enjoy the same protections from tobacco smoke," Doyle added.

In 2006, the Colorado state legislature passed the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act that made nearly all indoor workplaces and public places, including bars and restaurants, smoke-free.  The movement for smoke-free air began in Colorado's local communities fueled by the growing science on the dangers of secondhand smoke.  The science found there is no risk-free level of exposure to tobacco smoke that contains more than 7,000 chemicals with at least 70 known carcinogens and many more poisonous chemicals.

In 2006, there were eleven smoke-free states and 235 communities with smoke-free restaurants and bars.  Today, 26 states and more than 800 communities have smoke-free workplaces, including bars and restaurants.

"Despite opposition from the tobacco industry and their supporters, locals led the way then and continue to expand smoke-free protections today, which include prohibiting the use of electronic smoking devices in public places," said Government Relations Director R.J. Ours with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

Just within the last two years, more than a dozen communities have added electronic smoking devices to their local smoke-free laws and many have expanded their smoke-free laws to include places like outdoor parks and open space.  "Our work is not done but we want to thank the local and state residents, organizations, and elected officials that have supported smoke-free air," said Pete Bialick with the Group to Alleviate Smoking Pollution (GASP) of Colorado.

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