City With Legal Weed Bans Vaping At Popular Outdoor Mall

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

Lawmakers gave final approval to a ban on outdoor vaping at Denver’s 16th Street Mall in Colorado Monday, arguing it’s necessary to protect the health of tourists and residents.

The vaping restrictions are part of an overall ban on tobacco products at the mall, that suggests the products carry the same health risks as combustible cigarettes. The effort, dubbed the “Breathe Easy” campaign, requires vapers be at least 50 feet away from the mall before using their devices, and risk up to a $100 fine if caught violating the new ordinance, reports CBS Denver.

The Denver City Council approved the measure in a unanimous vote Monday evening. Critics of the measure say they find it odd officials are taking such a strict stance towards vapor products in a state that legalized recreational marijuana use. Residents say public pot use is a major problem in the city that officials struggle to control.

“I just think in a state that legalizes marijuana that it’s kind of silly to ban smoking,” Ray Burch, a worker on the 16th Street Mall, told CBS Denver in September.

Opponents of the ban also fear it will disproportionately impact the homeless community in Denver, though the council said they will require regular updates of who is receiving citations from the Denver Police Department. Some advocates of the homeless in Denver allege the ban is a concerted effort to push homeless people out of the area.

“In every city we’ve seen this ordinance put into place, the homeless community has been the one that’s targeted,” Benjamin Dunning, organizer with Denver Homeless Out Loud, told CBS Denver. “They’re the ones getting tickets. We think Denver can do better.”

The products deliver nicotine to the user, not tobacco, reducing the harm to themselves and largely eliminating second-hand risks, vaping advocates note. A growing body of medical evidence shows that vaping is a much safer alternative to smoking.

The ban will officially take effect on Dec. 1.

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