House Passes Smoking Ban; Owens' Signature Expected

Private Homes Among Exceptions

Colorado is now just one signature away from becoming a smoke-free state.

A statewide smoking ban proposal is on its way to Gov. Bill Owens, after the House of Representatives voted 38-to-24 to approve the measure Friday morning.

Owens was expected to sign the bill into law, although spokesman Dan Hopkins said the governor still wants to study the final version before deciding to sign it.

The Senate approved the plan Thursday. There was very little question that it would pass on the House Friday.

"I'm excited about it. You know, yesterday was the big test and we essentially passed the same bill in the House that we passed back in February, so I didn't have a lot of doubt but you always worry about it right up until the vote's done," said Rep. Mike May, the bill's sponsor in the House.

Once the governor signs the bill, smoking will no longer be allowed in bars and restaurants starting July 1. Casinos, cigar bars and the smoking lounge at Denver International Airport were exempted from the ban.

"Many of us wish that that (casinos) wouldn't have been exempted. Other than that major one, I think the rest of them are manageable, and overall it's a great bill. It's a great bill," May said.

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

Specific exceptions to the bill include: private homes; vehicles that are not used for child care or public transportation of children; limousines under private hire; up to 25 percent of rooms in a hotel or motel; retail tobacco businesses, the outdoor area of any business, and places of employment not open to the public with three or fewer employees. For places of employment that are exempt, the bill requires the employer to provide a smoke-free work area if requested by an employee.

Twelve other states have already passed similar smoking bans.

Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman signed that state's anti-smoking legislation Thursday.

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