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 tobaccofreekids.org.
“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 www.no-smoke.org.
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
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
He said Elliot’s has experienced a drop in sales, but are still
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.