Gimme some room to breathe

Oct 192004
Authors: Jill Krisl

There was a reason this year to celebrate Oct. 1- the day marked

the one-year anniversary of a smoke-free Fort Collins.

The official city celebration occurred Thursday at Chipper’s

Lane, 830 N. College Ave, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Festivities

included discounted bowling and free cake.

Although the law was fully implemented October 2003, bowling

alley bars were written as exempt, and only recently, under new

ownership, did they decide to change according to Dustin Peter, an

employee at Chipper’s Lanes.

Peter said the bowling alley was the perfect place for the

celebration because it epitomizes the idea the city had for going


“For years bowling and smoking have been synonymous and now that

is separated,” Peter said.

The city implemented the law after learning of the health

hazards that were posed to patrons and employees from second-hand


A study by Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y. found

that air pollution levels were 82 percent lower in smoke-free

establishments than those with no restrictions according to

Second-hand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals and is a

known cause of lung cancer, heart disease, bronchitis and asthma

according to

“Even thirty minutes of exposure has been shown to be

hazardous,” said Janna West Kowlaski, the health educator at the

Larimer County Department of Health and Environment.

“From a public health view, (this decision) is benefiting

everyone,” said Gwen Sieving, a health educator and head of the

smoking cessation program at Hartshorn Health Center.

Sieving went on to say that those seeing the greatest benefits

are people working in bars and restaurants.

In cities without smoke-free laws, bar and restaurant employees

were exposed to four times the average annual limits of fine

particulate air pollution recommended by the U.S. Environmental

Protection Agency according to

Kowlaski said she hears regularly from employees who enjoy

working in smoke-free environments and many say they feel better

not smelling like smoke or experiencing bad headaches.

Many of the bar patrons feel the same way.

“I’m glad the bars are non-smoking because I get an allergic

reaction in really smoky places and it makes me sick,” said Valerie

Holland, a senior marketing education major.

There are positive benefits seen for smokers as well. Kowlaski

said there are two common trends in cities that go smoke-free;

people smoke less or chose to quit.

At Hartshorn, Sieving offers counseling to students who wish to

quit and since the ordinance passed, her business has picked up


“It helps them to quit,” said Sieving.

She explained smoke-free bars offer a safe place to go without

the temptation to smoke.

Although there was concern over how the ordinance would affect

business of many of the bars and restaurants, Kowlaski said

according to sales tax data, there was an average increase seen for

these businesses.

While there may be evidence for an increase in sales, some have

actually seen decreases.

“Frankly, I am concerned,” said Ron Leonhard, owner of Elliot’s

Martini Bar.

He said Elliot’s has experienced a drop in sales, but are still

healthy financially.

Leonhard said many of the other bars are offering incredible

specials during the week to keep people coming; which keeps up

activity and sales during the week.

“It has become a ‘ghost town’ between Sunday and Wednesday,”

Leonhard said. Although business on weekends hasn’t changed much

according to Leonhard.

“It’s too bad bars may lose revenue,” said Holland, “but really

health is more important.”

Some other cities within Colorado to have similar ordinances

include Colorado Springs, Breckenridge, Boulder and Pueblo. Across

the nation New York City, Boston, El Paso, as well as all cities in

California and Delaware also have smoke-free laws.

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