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Boulder mulls smoking ban on Pearl Street Mall

6:51 PM, Dec 4, 2012   |    comments
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A favorite place for people-watching, the pedestrian mall is being targeted because it draws crowds.

"This is obviously the heart of our community," Molly Winter, who manages downtown for the City of Boulder, said. "It's a gathering place. A lot of events are here; a lot of people here. That just magnifies the impacts of smoking and secondhand smoke."

The ban would apply to the four blocks of brick-lined pedestrian mall and to the plaza in front of the Boulder County Courthouse.

County commissioners have expressed support for the move as have the businesses downtown. City officials say an outdoor smoking ban fits with the city's branding around healthy lifestyle.

The pedestrian mall already has city laws against biking, pets, and skateboards, so it makes a clearly defined zone to which a smoking ban can be added.

9NEWS found smokers on both sides of the issue.

"I don't even think it's going to be an inconvenience," Mike Pratte said. "There's always going to be a place you can go and smoke."

"People would continue smoking," Sarah Behan said. "The dogs aren't allowed here and people bring dogs here all the time."

The ban would apply to any smoking, including newly-legalized marijuana, setting up an early example of local regulation to control use of the drug despite its legal status.

One of the final sticking points is the penalty. The first draft of the ordinance allowed for a maximum fine of $1,000.

On Tuesday, council members will consider cutting that maximum fine in half.

Such a change would delay a final vote on the measure until it can be passed in the same form again.

After final passage, the ban would take effect within 30 days.

Police would be expected to allow a grace period in which they make people aware of the ban and hand out warnings rather than tickets.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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