Smoking ban in Fort Collins could be expanded

Smoking on a bar patio in Fort Collins could soon become illegal under a potential expansion of the city’s smoke-free ordinance.

The ordinance was passed in 2003 and prohibited smoking in restaurants and bars, as well as places of employment, bowling alleys and within a 20-foot perimeter around a building’s entrance.

Now, the city is considering extending the prohibition to bar patios and other outdoor dining areas.

The city is in the process of interviewing bar and restaurant owners and their employees. Surveys will be randomly mailed to residents and will be available online.

The survey asks whether it’s time to change the ordinance and what people think about exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke in outdoor dining areas and bar patios.

The city will accept the surveys until Feb. 15.

City staff will bring information collected on the subject to City Council in early summer, according to the city’s website.

Following the passage of the smoke-free ordinance, tobacco use in Fort Collins dropped to 11.5 percent as of 2010.

On its site, the city notes that, in Colorado, tobacco use is the leading cause of all preventable deaths, killing an estimated 4,500 people each year — more than all motor vehicle fatalities, suicides, homicides, illegal drug overdoses, alcohol-related deaths and AIDS combined.

Emerging research, it says, shows even short term exposure to tobacco smoke has immediate effect on the systems of the body. Drifting tobacco smoke can trigger asthmatic attacks, bronchial infections, and other serious health problems in nonsmokers and exposure is especially hazardous to persons with chronic diseases such as asthma and lung diseases.

More than 22,000 municipalities, representing 81.3 percent of the U.S. population, are covered by a 100-percent smoke-free provision in non-hospitality workplaces, as well as restaurants and bars, the city said.

Currently 39 states and the District of Columbia have local laws in effect that require non-hospitality workplaces and/or restaurants and/or bars to be 100-percent smoke-free.

Many other Colorado communities have explored or passed similar measures including Boulder and Wheat Ridge.

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Molly Armbrister covers real estate, banking and health care for the Northern Colorado Business Report. She can be reached at 970-232-3139, or

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