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Councilman Proposes Banning Smoking On 16th Street Mall

By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) - Smoking and vaping would be illegal on Denver's 16th Street Mall under an ordinance being pushed by City Council President Albus Brooks.

He calls it the "Breathe Easy" campaign, saying the 40,000 people who use the mall every day shouldn't have to breath in other people's smoke.

"It really is the jewel we think about in our city. It's the number one destination in our city."

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Albus Brooks (credit: CBS)

Brooks says he's received hundreds of emails over his seven years on city council asking for the ban.

"This year it just came to a head because we had so many residents saying this is a concern, and we don't feel like you're hearing us."

So, he says he's clearing the air, pushing to ban smoking of any kind along the mall.

"Whether it's vaping, whether it's e-cigarette, whether that's a cigarettes, it's all smoking."

(credit: CBS)

Brooks says there's a misconception that vaporizers and e-cigarettes aren't harmful. But, he says health officials disagree and you can vape not only nicotine but pot concentrates - which have no odor- which is why his proposed ban covers just about anything that makes a cloud.

Ray Burch, who works on the mall, says the city has enough trouble enforcing the ban on pot in public spaces.

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Ray Burch (credit: CBS)

"I just think in a state that legalizes marijuana that it's kind of silly to ban smoking."

But, Ryan Parks - also a smoker - says he gets it.

"I don't like smoking around kids as smoker," Parks says.

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Ryan Parks (credit: CBS)

Brooks says he knows there will be some push back, but he says he polled his district and over 80 percent of people support the ban.

"I think more what we'll see is people asking us to do the parks, asking us to do all public spaces. It's about being good neighbor being a healthy city."

The city already bans smoking and vaping in Union Station. It would be a civil offense under the proposed ordinance, punishable by a fine of up to $100.

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(credit: CBS)

Brooks says 4,500 other cities - including several in Colorado - have similar bans in place.

He says health officials will make a presentation to city council on the dangers of vaping this Wednesday.

Shaun Boyd is CBS4's political specialist. She's a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

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