New Year Brings New Smoking Ban To Fort Collins' Downtown
As of Jan. 1, 2016, smoking in Fort Collins will be banned throughout much of downtown as well as all large events and festivals that require a special event permit from the city.
While the main goal of the ban is to reduce the public's exposure to secondhand smoke, encouraging smokers to quit could be a secondary result, said Delynn Coldiron, Director of Neighborhood Services for the City of Fort Collins.
"What we're finding is that, as these areas become smoke-free in other parts of the country, that it does actually reduce the amount of people that are smoking overall," Coldiron said. "I don't think it stops smoking completely, but we've seen trends that it does reduce the amount of smoking."
In 2010, studies by the Task Force on Community Preventive Services showed smoke-free laws and policies in workplaces were associated with a 6.4 percent increase in tobacco use cessation and a 3.4 percent decrease in tobacco use.
As part of this effort, the city is partnering with the Larimer County Health Department to include help with smoking cessation.
The ban, which includes E-cigarettes and vape pens, is part of an expansion of an ordinance adopted by Fort Collins City Council in September 2015, which made smoking at city parks, trails or natural areas, or at any city facility, illegal.
For the first year of the full downtown ban, education will be the big focus, not enforcement.
"Voluntary compliance is our goal," Coldiron said. "We really want to do what we can to educate people and do as much outreach as possible."
Education efforts will include increased signage and communicating with downtown businesses about the new laws. During January and May, the city also will send out employees to do outreach with community members.
"There is a citation that can be issued, but for us that's gonna be completely a last resort," said Coldiron, adding that, to her knowledge, no citations had been given out since the September ban went into effect.
In 1984, Fort Collins became the first Colorado city to pass a comprehensive smoking ordinance, which limited smoking in public buildings and required restaurants to provide no-smoking sections. In 2003, the city required bars, restaurants and workplaces to go smoke-free.
In 2014, the city expanded the ban to include outdoor dining areas and bar patios; bus shelters and benches and all hotel and motel rooms.
"The City of Fort Collins has been a leader of smoke-free efforts for a long time," Coldiron said. "We did that primarily because we found that secondhand smoke is harmful at any level."
Coldiron said other benefits to going smoke-free in public places include an increase in the quality of life for residents and visitors and a decrease in litter, particularly cigarette butts, which are toxic to animals and small children.