Denver’s proposed 16th Street Mall smoking ban a means to discriminate, homeless advocates say


The City of Denver is proposing to make the 16th Street Mall a smoke-free zone. If the ordinance passes, signs will be posted reminding people who smoke or vape in public that they could be fined $100.

A proposal that would make the 16th Street Mall smoke-free isn’t about public health, opponents say, but about creating another means to push homeless and impoverished people out of Denver’s public spaces.

The Denver City Council’s safety, housing, education and homelessness committee on Wednesday approved moving the “Breathe Easy” ordinance along for consideration by the entire council later this month.

The measure, introduced by council president Albus Brooks, would ban all forms of traditional tobacco smoking and the use of vaporizers and e-cigarettes on the high-traffic, public mall. It would apply to all public areas on 16th Street from Broadway to Chestnut Place, and within 50 feet of where the mall’s public right of way ends in either direction.

Provided by the Downtown Denver Partnership.The City of Denver is proposing to make the 16th Street Mall a smoke-free zone. If the ordinance passes, signs will be posted reminding people who smoke or vape in public that they could be fined $100.

Brooks says the measure is an overdue means to protect public health in a business and tourism corridor that draws 40,000 to 80,000 visitors every day. The measure has support from medical professionals, downtown property owners and business groups.

Speakers at the meeting included Dr. Barry Make, a pulmonologist with National Jewish Health, who said the density of crowds on the mall makes exposure to secondhand smoke particularly difficult to avoid.

“I would just like to say, first and foremost, this is about health and wellness,” Brooks said in a presentation to the committee, pointing to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics that say 2.5 million people have died from ailments related to exposure to secondhand smoke since 1964.

But homeless advocates see it differently, describing the proposed rule as thinly veiled discrimination, and likening it to Jim Crow and other past laws …read more

Source:: The Denver Post

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