This month marks the ten-year anniversary of a state law designed to protect Coloradans from exposure to secondhand smoke.
With the law’s passing the state has seen a number of improvements in certain health markers including a decrease in the proportion of adults who report second hand smoke exposure at work and an increase in the percent of houses that report of no smoking in the home in the past 30 days.
In the 10 years since the law went into effect, there are 100,000 fewer smokers in Colorado.
“We’ve really made great strides in Colorado toward protecting our residents from secondhand smoke and helping to keep them healthy,” said Andrea Carlstrom, Director of Chaffee County Public Health. “Colorado has come a long way in the past 10 years.”
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
Nationally, secondhand smoke kills 41,000 nonsmokers each year. In Colorado, approximately 740 nonsmoking Coloradans die from exposure to secondhand smoke annually.
That is why the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act was passed by the General Assembly in 2006 and went into effect on July 1 of that year. The law prohibits smoking in indoor public areas such as restaurants, bars and workplaces. The law does not extend to some workplaces, such as cigar and hookah bars, or to outdoor spaces such as restaurant patios, in parks and on playgrounds. Thanks to the commitment and collaboration led by Boys and Girls Clubs in recent years, both Buena Vista and Salida have passed ordinances that further protect nonsmokers from involuntary exposure in our public parks and recreation areas.
Despite these great strides, research shows that workers, patrons and children continue to be exposed to secondhand smoke. According to the American Lung Association, “There are approximately 600 ingredients in cigarettes. When burned, they create more than 7,000 chemicals. At least 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer, and many are poisonous.”
Chaffee County health advocates are looking at additional policy measures that can be enacted in order to protect people from exposure to secondhand smoke at work and in public areas.