DENVER – The city council will likely hear a proposal to ban smoking along a stretch of the 16th Street Mall later this month after a council committee voted unanimously Wednesday to pass the long-discussed, and somewhat controversial, measure onto the full council.
The ban, called the “Breathe Easy” campaign, would implement a ban on smoking cigarettes, cigars and electronic smoking devices within 50 feet of 16th Street between Broadway and Chestnut Street.
At Wednesday’s committee meeting, Councilman Albus Brooks continued his push for the proposal’s approval, saying that Denver lags behind other big cities in its rules for public smoking. He said that Golden and Boulder also have rules that Denver could model theirs after.
Several representatives from medical fields and transportation zones expressed support for the measure, saying it would cut down on second-hand smoke for those who don’t smoke.
But some councilors expressed concern that the measure was unfairly targeting low-income and homeless people who are the most-likely to smoke.
Denver Police Deputy Chief David Quinones said the main goal of the ban would be to change behavior—not necessarily flat-out cite everyone for a first offense—and added that the program would have a soft rollout aimed at changing people’s behaviors.
He also suggested that police or the council compile data in quarterly reports as to how the program is working.
Violating the proposed ordinance would result in a fine of up to $100, but some officials stressed that there would be an education program, and that officers would be directed to use their discretion when handing out warnings or tickets should the measure get the mayor’s signature.
Smoking is already banned within 25 feet of an entryway in Denver, and within 15 feet of entryways across the state.
Despite the reservations from some on the committee, it voted unanimously, 7-0, to pass the measure straight on to the full council, which is expected to take it up for discussion at the Oct. 23 meeting.
A final vote on the proposal could come as soon as Oct. 30.