Thursday, June 16, 2016

Coloradans celebrate 10 years of breathing easier

After 10 years of public smoking restrictions, fewer Coloradans smoke tobacco and fewer still are exposed to the negative health effects of secondhand smoke.

“Coloradans today breathe cleaner, safer air because of the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper. “Our workers no longer have to choose between their health and a paycheck. Families don’t have to worry about their kids breathing dangerous secondhand smoke when they go out to eat. And millions of Coloradans no longer have to risk their health when they gather in public.”

The bipartisan Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act, which made nearly all indoor businesses smoke-free, became law July 1, 2006. From 2005 to 2015, the proportion of high school students who smoked dropped from nearly one in five (18.7 percent) to fewer than one in 10 (8.6 percent).

By 2014, nearly 100,000 fewer adults smoked than did before public smoking restrictions took effect. Adult current smoking dropped from 19.8 percent in 2005 to 15.7 percent in 2014. Meanwhile, the number of adults who tried to quit smoking grew from 60.4 percent to 70.3 percent, and the number who quit for good grew from 14 percent to 16 percent.

More than nine of 10 Coloradans are protected from secondhand smoke at work, and surveys show more than nine of 10 Colorado homes are smoke-free. Smoking bans in restaurants, bars, casinos, concert halls and other public places have protected millions of Coloradans and visitors from the toxic effects of secondhand smoke.

Research shows there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Exposure can trigger heart attacks in adults and increase the risk of chronic disease, respiratory infections in children and even Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Some workplaces are exempt from the Clean Indoor Air Act, including tobacco shops, workplaces with fewer than three employees and 25 percent of motel rooms. Communities across Colorado are strengthening local smoke-free protections to include e-cigarettes and additional public places such as parks and open spaces. A majority of Coloradans say they would like to see more public places off limits to tobacco,according to the state adult (Tobacco) Attitudes and Behavior Surveys from 2005 through 2012.

“Public smoking restrictions have made Colorado a healthier place to live, work and play,” said Dr. Larry Wolk, executive director and chief medical officer of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Working toward a smoke-free Colorado will help us meet the governor’s goal of making Colorado the healthiest state in the nation.”

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