As Colorado prepares to extend its state law eliminating secondhand smoke in workplaces to include casinos as of January 1, 2008, the state's mountain gambling towns have been hard at work getting ready for the change. Casinos have been installing outdoor heaters and putting up windscreens, while some city councils have been finding ways to loosen the law. The Central City town council officially defined an "outdoor area" as any place at least 40 percent exposed to the outdoors, allowing for construction of partly-enclosed smoking areas. The state provision requires that smoking stay at least 15 feet away from building entrances to prevent smoke from getting inside buildings, but since it also allows home-rule cities to change that distance, Central City and Black Hawk both reduced their official smoking distance to all of one inch. Central City's Mayor, Buddy Schmalz, says his town has "no intention of getting around any kind of laws on the smoking ban," saying his town is just preparing for the future, but Smoke-free Gaming of Colorado, the coalition of casino employees and patrons who worked to close the loophole that allowed continued smoking in casinos, expressed disappointment that the towns are working to circumvent the state law.
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