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Frequently Asked Questions about Smoking in Fort Collins


1. When did the City of Fort Collins ban smoking in public areas?
Read the entire "Smoking in Public Areas" municipal code. On October 1, 2003, City Council originally passed an ordinance banning smoking in public areas; this ordinance was expanded in January and July 2014. The ordinance bans smoking in public areas including:

  • restaurants, bars, and taverns
  • billiard and pool halls
  • indoor sports arenas and performance halls
  • grocery stores
  • public meetings and court rooms
  • child and elder care facilities
  • restrooms, lobbies, hallways, and elevators
  • libraries and all schools
  • within a 20-foot perimeter outside of the entrances, operable windows, passageways and ventilation systems of smoke-free areas, except for passersby who do not stop
  • on or within 20 feet of outdoor dining areas or patios abutting a public right-of-way or sidewalk
  • bowling alleys and bingo halls
  • hospitals, clinics, and other health care facilities
  • at any of Transfort's public transit facilities, benches, and platforms

Effective January 1, 2015, this list will also include:

  • 100% of hotel/motel rooms ( Hotels/motels may currently allow smoking in up to 25% of hotel/motel guest rooms)
  • The use of electronic smoking devices will be prohibited in all places where conventional smoking is not allowed

2. How is the smoking in public areas law enforced?
Many community members and organizations worked with the City of Fort Collins to develop an educational campaign called “A Change in the Air” to remind and inform the public of the law. Here are some things you can do to ensure your employees and customers are aware of the law.

  • Inform customers and employees of the law.
  • Develop personnel procedures, which include when and where smoke breaks can be taken and what happens should an employee violate the law.
  • Post "No Smoking" signs in prominent places, such as entrances and restrooms.
  • Remove indoor ashtrays.
  • Train employees about the law, including what to say to customers who smoke inside, for example: "In accordance with Fort Collins law, this establishment is smoke-free."

3. What do I do if someone is smoking in my establishment?
If you or your staff observe someone smoking inside your establishment, ask the person not to smoke indoors. Suggest the person smoke outside and remind them that Fort Collins law prohibits smoking in indoor public and work places. You may provide an area outside of your establishment for smokers as long as it is 20 feet from the entrance, operable windows, passageway and /or your ventilation system. If you have a customer who refuses to comply, you should ask the person to leave your establishment in order to avoid being in violation of the requirement that your establishment be smoke-free. If they refuse, call the Fort Collins Police for assistance.

4. Who is responsible for violations of the smoking law?
If smoking is allowed to continue in an establishment or place of employment, including a restaurant or bar, citations may be issued to any number of persons involved, including the business owner, the manager, the operator on duty, and the person smoking. Violation of the City Code is a misdemeanor charge that may result in a monetary fine or other consequences. As with any local ordinance, a violation of the City Code could result in a fine of up to $1,000 per day or up to 180 days in jail. Each day that an establishment, a place of employment, or an individual smoker fails to comply may be considered a separate violation.

5. What do bars and restaurants need to do to comply with the law?
All establishments are required to eliminate smoking completely in their place of business or employment (with the exception of limited circumstances highlighted below). Ashtrays must be removed and “no smoking” signs must be posted at every entrance to the business (minimum size is 20 square inches; sign must include international no smoking symbol and be hung between 4-6 feet above the floor).

Smoking may be allowed in patio areas if they are located 20 feet away from entrances, passageways, ventilation systems and operable windows. A 20-foot perimeter around these listed places must be kept smoke-free.

6. Where is smoking allowed?
Smoking is allowed in unenclosed public places outside of the smoke-free perimeter, in certain specified public places, and in places that do not constitute a public place or place of employment as defined in the law. Here is a short list of venues in which smoking may be allowed.

  • Private functions (those that are closed to the general public).
  • Up to 25% of guest rooms in hotels/motelsmotels (Note: Effective January 1, 2015, 100% of hotel/motel rooms are to be smoke-free). Public areas must be smoke-free.
  • Outdoors, including outdoor places of employment (except within the smoke-free perimeter).
  • Private residences, except those used as care facilities or home businesses that are open to the public.
  • Tobacco retail stores. Restrictions apply, for questions call Neighborhood Services at 970-224-6046.

7. Do the ashtrays have to be removed from the front entrances of a building?
The code requires all ashtrays and other smoking paraphernalia to be removed from any area where smoking is prohibited. Therefore, since smoking is prohibited 20 feet from any entrance, passageway, operable window or ventilation system the ashtrays must not be located for people to congregate and smoke within that 20 foot perimeter.

8. Are the open bay areas in auto shops required to be smoke free?
If the auto shop bay area is enclosed then the bay area must be smoke free. Enclosed is defined as all space between a floor and ceiling that is enclosed on all sides by solid walls or windows (including large garage doors) that extend from floor to ceiling. An open door or window does not make an otherwise enclosed area “unenclosed.”

9. Are liquor stores required to be smoke free? Yes the code applies to all liquor stores.

10. My business does not allow pubic access to some areas; do we have to have a smoke free workplace if all the employees agree to work in a smoking environment?
All places of employment are required to be smoke free under the law. A place of employment is defined as any area under the control of a public or private employer that employees normally frequent or use during the course of employment. Therefore, regardless of whether the business allows public access to the work areas, the employer must provide a smoke free work place for the employees, including vehicles that are normally frequented or used in the course of employment.

11. I have a home-based business in my basement. Does that have to be smoke free?
If your home-based business has employees or you receive clients or the public in that business, then your home-based business must become smoke-free.

12. We rent office space within a building and the entrances have no smoking signs posted. Do we need to post a sign on our personal office door as well?
As long as there is no outside access to your office and the no smoking signs on the building are at every entrance, you are not required to post a sign on your office door.