DENVER - Denver's ongoing plan to improve the image of the 16th Street Mall could soon take on a new target: smokers.
Last year, the city added security officers after a string of violent incidents on the mall. A proposal before city council would have those officers writing tickets for people who light up.
“40,000 to 80,000 people per day are on the 16th Street Mall and they have the right to breathe easy," Council President Albus Brooks said. "4,500 municipalities have smoke free zones in their cities.”
Denver is surrounded by those types of cities. Boulder, Golden and Fort Collins all have smoking bans that go farther than the state rules.
While Denver isn't suggesting banning it throughout downtown as some cities do, Councilor Brooks wants more regulation outdoors.
“Union Station and the plaza area is a smoke free zone. If you go sit there right now its enforced. No one's smoking. It's a perfect test case for the 16th Street Mall,” Brooks said.
The ban would include smoking and vaping on the mile-long mall. He says it's about health and being considerate.
“Secondhand smoke has killed over two million people in the last 25 years,” Brooks said.
The Downtown Denver Partnership is working with the city to make this plan come together. They say it's what people want.
“We've heard from businesses and residents from other uses of downtown and we think it's an idea whose time has come,” said John Desmond, executive vice president of the Downtown Denver Partnership.
DDP added security in the wake of high profile violent incidents in recent years.
Brooks calls the smoking ban the next piece to the puzzle of how to improve the mall.
“If you go to the mall right now you will see security walking around. If you go the mall right now you will see DPD and RTD. All of those entities will be enforcing this,” Brooks said.
Denver already prohibits smoking at city and county buildings. Brooks says the city has plans to add vaping to that ordinance as well.
The proposal faces more votes before it can become law. It's expected to go before the full council in October. If it passes, violators could be fined up to $100.
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