Positive Changes, But More Work to Be Done
Ten years ago a state law was passed designed to protect Coloradans from exposure to secondhand smoke. This law was built on a growing body of evidence of the dangers of secondhand smoke, and has gone a long way toward protecting people in work and public places in Southeast Colorado from this dangerous substance.
In the ten years since the law went into effect, there are 100,000 fewer smokers in Colorado.
However, because the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act does not extend to some workplaces such as cigar and hookah bars, or to outdoor spaces such as restaurant patios, parks and playgrounds, many Coloradans still risk exposure and the sickness, disease and even death that can result.
In Southeast Colorado, exemptions to the state law mean that residents are still being exposed to secondhand smoke at work. While even small amounts of secondhand smoke exposure can be dangerous, chronic exposure is nearly as harmful as being a pack-a-day smoker and can result in serious conditions including lung cancer and heart disease. Chronic exposure is an expected result for workers in a cigar bar, or on a smoky patio.
Research also shows that people can be exposed to the negative effects of secondhand smoke outdoors. Exposure to outdoor smoke can rival exposure to indoor secondhand smoke. As Southeast Colorado residents and visitors enjoy more outdoor time during the summer months, this is a reality we must face.
For these reasons, we need to consider expansions to Colorado’s Clean Indoor Air Act for Southeast Colorado. We know that policies that prohibit smoking in work and public places can have significant positive impacts on public health. In fact, studies in Pueblo and Greeley showed a sharp decrease in hospital admissions for heart attacks after the passage of local smokefree ordinances. We need to look for ways to achieve such results here in Southeast Colorado as well. Additionally, smoke-free policies can help current smokers quit.
Expanding the protections of Colorado’s Clean Indoor Air Act is the healthy thing to do for Southeast Colorado and something our residents and visitors will appreciate. More than 60 percent of Coloradans surveyed think there should be a law prohibiting smoking in outdoor restaurant dining patios and nearly half of those surveyed want to ban smoking in outdoor public places, like parks.
The Clean Indoor Air Act has protected Coloradans from secondhand smoke indoors for ten years, but there is more we can do. Our work doesn’t stop until everyone in our community is protected.
For more information go to http://sitekreator.com/SmokeFreeColorado/resources-downloads.html