Owens Signs Smoking Bill

Law Goes Into Effect July 1

That's it. The last hurdle for getting the smoking ban into law has now been passed.

On Monday, Gov. Bill Owens signed legislation making Colorado the 13th state to enact a statewide smoking ban. The law takes effect July 1.

House Bill 1175, sponsored by Rep. Mike May (R-Parker) and Sen. Dan Grossman (D-Denver), prohibits smoking in bars, restaurants and most workplaces. The ban excludes casinos, cigar bars and the smoking lounge at Denver International Airport.

Casinos will be allowed to have smoking only in their gambling areas -- not their bars and restaurants.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, secondhand smoke is the No. 1 source of indoor air pollution containing hazardous chemical compounds such as arsenic and formaldehyde. Like asbestos, it has been classified as a Class A carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Health Department states that secondhand smoke is responsible for the deaths of thousands of nonsmokers each year and is known to cause lung cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease in nonsmokers.

In Colorado, the costs attributable to secondhand smoke are estimated to be $180 million annually for direct medical expenses and $19 million for loss of life, according to the governor's office.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in Colorado. According to the Health Department, more people die from smoking each year than from alcohol and drug abuse, AIDS, homicide, suicide, car accidents and fires combined.

Approximately 130,000 smokers develop smoking-related illnesses each year in the state and the annual healthcare costs directly attributable to tobacco exceed $1 billion, or $259 per capita.

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