City council committee to consider smoking ban ordinance for 16th Street Mall

DENVER -- The push to ban smoking on the 16th Street Mall moves a step closer to reality on Wednesday when the measure will be heard by a committee of the Denver City Council.

The proposal is igniting a lot of emotion from both sides of the issue.

The so-called breathe easy ordinance would ban all cigarette smoking, all cigars and all vaping on the entire length of the pedestrian mall.

Sponsors claim 45 cities in the country have smoking bans similar to this one already in place.

They say the idea is to make the mall a cleaner, healthier and more attractive place for residents and visitors.

"What you will see is a lot of education around this first," council president Albus Brooks said. "And we know from others around the country, when you educate people, 80 percent will stop smoking, the other 20 percent will probably have to get a fine."

There are 40,000 to 80,000 people on the mall each day.

"This is a health issue. We're tired of it. It's part of a plan to transform the mall, to make it a clean and healthy place where we can have more individuals be in the city of Denver."

If caught smoking, the ordinance calls for a $100 fine.

Brooks believes he has the support for the measure to pass the full city council.