Denver may ban smoking and vaping on 16th Street Mall

2 min. read
LoDo noir. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A man smoking in Lower Downtown . (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Vape 'em if you got 'em. Denver's elected leaders may decide next month whether to make it illegal to use vaporizers or smoke cigarettes on the 16th Street Mall.

"I seek to prohibit smoking of any product including, e-cigarettes, vapes, etc. along the 16th Street Mall," wrote City Council President Albus Brooks in a memo.

"Protecting public health by prohibiting smoking along the 16th Street Mall would not only improve the quality of life for its inhabitants but also its visitors."

Brooks' proposal, called the "Breathe Easy Ordinance," would institute fines of up to $100 for people who smoke or vape on the pedestrian mall. It would be a civil offense, not a criminal one.

The proposal also aims to stop people from vaporizing marijuana, which is already forbidden in public spaces in Denver.

The 16th Street Mall. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Currently, smoking and vaporizing is generally allowed along the mile stretch of the 16th Street Mall.

Smoking (but not vaporizing) is banned within 25 feet of building entries in Denver. But since the mall is about 80 feet wide in many places, that leaves plenty of space to smoke.

Brooks' memo states that vaporizers are harmful because they "re-normalize" smoking in public and "create the impression that the use of such devices is associated with a healthy lifestyle." Plus, you can use them to smoke weed sneakily.

The proposal also hints at where else Denver could take action against smokers.

As the memo states:

  • Eleven other Colorado municipalities ban smoking in patios and outdoor dining areas. Denver does not.
  • Nine others ban smoking in public transit waiting areas. Denver does not.
  • Nineteen others ban smoking in parks. Denver bans marijuana, but not cigarettes or vaporizers.

To be clear, Brooks' memo does not actually argue for Denver to ban smoking or vaping anywhere new except for the 16th Street Mall.

Denver already has a smoking ban that forbids traditional smoking (but not vaporizing) near city buildings and hospitals and in sports stadiums. State law since 2006 has banned smoking inside.

The potential new ordinances goes up for a committee vote on Oct. 11 and may go for a vote before the full Denver City Council later that month.

What do you think? Email me.

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