Senate kills bill bolstering state smoking ban
May 2, 2007 - 1:29AM
DENVER - Smokers caught their first break of the 2007 General Assembly on Tuesday when the Senate snuffed out a bill that would have made it harder to claim cigarbar status.
The rejection of Senate Bill 250 came just days after the House and Senate approved a ban on smoking in casinos beginning Jan. 1, ending the biggest exemption in 2006's Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act. A Senate committee also killed bills this session that would have widened the exemptions on the indoor smoking ban to include veterans' halls and mom-and-pop taverns.
Sen. Betty Boyd originally sought to ban cigar bars with her bill, but she compromised Monday to clarify that such an exemption is good only for bars that opened before 2006 and get 5 percent of annual revenue from sales of cigars, cigar tobacco and rental of onsite humidors. Some bars that sell a lot of cigarettes now use the wording of the original exemption to continue to allow smoking.
Senate Republicans made their final stand on the issue Tuesday, claiming the Legislature is hurting businesses and is being overly paternalistic by telling people what they can and cannot do. This time, though, they got four Democrats to join with them and defeat the measure.
"Smoke 'em if you got 'em," Sen. Steve Ward, R-Littleton, strode around the chamber saying afterward while carrying a cigar in his hands.
Boyd, D-Lakewood, said she's disappointed because allowing people to smoke at bars with fancy martinis and expensive cigars but not at roadside taverns can be seen as classist. She expects somebody might try to ban such bars again next year, though she said any fight would be a hard one.
"This may have been the toughest because this one ultimately is the last bastion of people going out smoking and drinking," Boyd said after the vote.
Exemptions also exist for businesses with three or fewer employees and for the smoking lounges at Denver International Airport. No one has tried to end those yet.
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