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Colorado Casinos Clear the Air and Become Smoke-Free in 2008
Date:12/17/2007

Jan. 1 Marks a New Era for Casino Patrons and Employees

DENVER, Dec. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- At 8 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2008, employees and visitors at Colorado casinos will experience a breath of fresh air, as all state-licensed casinos will be completely smoke-free to comply with the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act. The removal of the casinos' exemption will protect casino employees and guests from exposure to secondhand smoke, which, according to the Surgeon General, accounts for nearly 53,000 deaths a year in the United States alone.

"This is another step in creating a healthier environment for Coloradoans," said R.J. Ours, director of government relations for the American Cancer Society - Great West Division. "Since the law went into effect, we've seen vast improvements in air quality for hospitality venues, eliminating exposure to dangerous secondhand smoke."

While casinos were exempt from the law, an air quality study found that employees and patrons were exposed to "unhealthy" indoor air pollution levels, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. This rating indicates that people in casinos were exposed to secondhand smoke levels that posed a threat to their health.

Bars and taverns, however, saw air quality improve by 90 percent in the first year of the smoke-free law. Those venues also had "unhealthy" levels of air pollution prior the law, and now the level has changed to a "good" rating, indicating that the air pollution poses little or no health risk. Casinos can look forward to a similar improvement in air quality in 2008.

The Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act was implemented on July 1, 2006, and prohibits smoking in most public places including bars and restaurants. The goal of the law was to create healthier environments in which Colorado residents can live, work and in the case of the state's casinos -- play.

"We know the casinos will see the positive impacts of the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act," said Cindy Liverance, vice president of programs at the American Lung Association of Colorado. "Their employees and patrons alike will be benefit from a smoke-free environment while still enjoying all the fun the casinos have to offer."

Colorado was the 13th state to enact a smoke-free law. To date, 21 other states, including Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, have passed similar ordinances that enable their citizens to live and work in healthy environments, free from the effects of secondhand smoke.

Currently, only one in six Colorado adults smoke, and in fact, only 15 percent of women in Colorado smoke. Colorado now ranks 9th in the nation for the lowest prevalence of adult smoking.

About the American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by saving lives, diminishing suffering and preventing cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. Founded in 1913 and with national headquarters in Atlanta, the Society has 13 regional Divisions and local offices in 3,400 communities, involving millions of volunteers across the United States. For more information anytime, call toll free 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit http://www.cancer.org.

About the American Lung Association of Colorado

The American Lung Association is committed to preventing lung disease and promoting lung health through education, research and advocacy. It offers practical help to people living with asthma, emphysema and other lung diseases. The association also addresses lung disease at the root level, educating kids about the dangers of smoking, pushing for more smoke-free workplaces and even working to reduce air pollution. For more information, visit http://www.lungcolorado.org.

About the American Heart Association

Founded in 1924, the American Heart Association is the nation's oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. These diseases, America's No. 1 and No. 3 killers, claim more than 870,000 lives a year. In fiscal year 2005- 06 the association invested more than $543 million in research, professional and public education, advocacy and community service programs to help all Americans live longer, healthier lives. To learn more, visit http://www.americanheart.org.

CONTACT:

Cara Harshberger

carah@schenkein.com

303-672-4336


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SOURCE American Heart Association; American Cancer Society;American Lung
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