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Vaping on the 16th St mall ...
John Leyba, The Denver Post
Vaping on the 16th Street Mall, as seen on Oct. 11, 2017. A smoking ban on the mall took effect Friday, Dec. 1, 2017.
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A new city ban on smoking and vaping took effect Friday along downtown Denver’s 16th Street Mall, but don’t expect to see police officers handing out many costly tickets.

An image shows a sign that was proposed to be posted on Denver's 16th Street Mall during the City Council's discussion of a smoking and vaping ban for the area. The signs was part of a slideshow delivered to a council committee on Oct. 11, 2017.
City Council presentaiton
An image shows a sign that was proposed to be posted on Denver’s 16th Street Mall during the City Council’s discussion of a smoking and vaping ban for the area. The signs was part of a slideshow delivered to a council committee on Oct. 11, 2017.

“Our least-preferred method of dealing with a violation of this ordinance will be issuing a citation,” said Sgt. John White of the Denver Police Department. “We really want to focus on providing education and verbal warnings — and ultimately have voluntary compliance with the ordinance.”

The 1.2-mile ban zone extends from Broadway northwest to Chestnut Place, near Union Station, as well as 50 feet in either direction from 16th Street. That means people who want to light up or vape must walk a few dozen paces down a side street.

The ordinance, approved 9-0 by the City Council on Oct. 30, allows citations that cost up to $100. But the soft-enforcement approach planned by DPD and city officials is likely to result in few fines.

On Friday, it was status quo on the mall. Signs warning of the new restrictions are still on order by the Downtown Denver Partnership, which was among groups pushing for the smoking ban. The Partnership says it plans to begin installing signs Wednesday.

Denver joins several cities nationally, as well as Golden and Boulder, in banning public smoking in part of its downtown.

Ticketed violations aren’t considered criminal offenses.

In approving the ban, council members and supporters said it would improve public health. Some council members worried the ban would be used to target the homeless and service workers on smoke breaks, so they added a requirement that DPD collect information about who receives tickets and report that information regularly to the council.

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