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Publish Date: 3/17/2005

State smoking ban on the table
Bill set to go before Senate by week’s end


DENVER — The state would ban smoking inside most of Colorado’s private and public workplaces and public indoor locations, including bars and restaurants, under a bill unveiled Wednesday by Denver Democratic Sen. Dan Grossman.

“This legislation accomplishes the dual objectives of upholding the public health principle that indoor places where people congregate should be smoke-free,” Grossman said.

Grossman added that his proposal, expected to be introduced in the Senate by week’s end, would ensure a level economic playing field for Colorado businesses that now have to cope with widely varying local smoking restrictions, including many communities that do not ban it at all.

The bill would allow cities, towns and counties to keep or enact local smoking regulations that are stricter than those in the proposed uniform statewide law. No local regulations could be less stringent than the state measure, though, and it would impose smoking bans in communities that do not have them now.

According to the Colorado Tobacco Education and Prevention Alliance, communities with smoke-free workplaces, restaurants or bars include: unincorporated Boulder County, where restrictions apply to workplaces, bars and restaurants; Longmont and Louisville, which both have smoke-free bars and restaurants; and Fort Collins, with smoke-free workplaces, bars and restaurants.

Violators of the proposed law would face a fine of up to $200 for a first violation within a calendar year.

That fine would grow to $300 for a second violation within a year’s time, and $500 for a third or subsequent violation during the year. Each day of a continuing violation could result in a separate fine.

Participating in a news conference on the Capitol steps to support Grossman’s bill was Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, a restaurateur who said in a statement: “I’m not an advocate of more regulation of businesses, but given the health problems created by secondhand smoke, it is only logical that this public health issue be addressed on a statewide level, ensuring a level playing field for all businesses.”

Colorado Restaurant Association President Pete Meersman said his organization supports Grossman’s bill because “as the number of local smoking bans has increased, momentum has grown among our members to support a statewide ban because they want a level playing field for all operators.”

 

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