State senator introduces smoking ban bill despite opposition |

State senator introduces smoking ban bill despite opposition

DENVER – A state senator on Tuesday introduced a proposal to ban smoking in bars and restaurants across Colorado even though he acknowledges the bill faces stiff opposition at the state Capitol.Sen. Dan Grossman, D-Denver, said he wants to get the debate started about the dangers of second-hand smoke even though all Senate Republicans and some members of his own party have lined up against Senate Bill 207. With smoking already banned in public places by at least 13 local governments, Grossman said he also wants to create a level playing field for businesses that fear losing customers to jurisdictions without smoking bans.”The bottom line is this is something the business community wants and it’s a health issue. Those two values should be of a higher echelon than party politics,” he said.The Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act, co-sponsored by Rep. Mark Larson, R-Cortez, would ban smoking in all workplaces with at least four employees.Grossman and Larson have support from health groups as well as the Colorado Restaurant Association and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. However, Republicans in the Senate say it violates the rights of businesses and individuals to decide for themselves what to do about smoking.Sen. Ken Kester, R-Las Animas, said local governments should decide for themselves whether they want a smoking ban.”We can’t babysit everyone,” Kester said.Grossman said he has the support of the majority of Democrats in the Senate.One Democrat who opposes it is Sen. Bob Hagedorn of Aurora, the chairman of the Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee, who thinks the decision should be left up to voters, not lawmakers. The bill was originally expected to get its first hearing in Hagedorn’s committee but Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald has instead assigned it to the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee of which she is a member.

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