If you go

What: Open house on Boulder's consideration of a smoking ban on the Pearl Street Mall

When: 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Municipal Building lobby, 1777 Broadway

Boulder's elected officials will consider a smoking ban on the Pearl Street Mall, an idea that appears to have initial support from City Council members and downtown businesses.

Terri Takata Smith, director of marketing and communications for Downtown Boulder Inc., said the nonprofit business alliance sent out a survey to business owners and employees in the downtown area. It has received 165 responses so far, and a strong majority favor a smoking ban, Takata Smith said.

She said the business group plans to share the survey results with the City Council, which will consider an ordinance in October that would ban smoking along the four blocks of the pedestrian mall as well as on the County Courthouse lawn.

The city will host an open house on the proposal from 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Municipal Building lobby, 1777 Broadway.

City officials said the proposed ban is in response to complaints from tourists, downtown employees, restaurant owners and retail businesses about an increase in cigarette-butt litter and secondhand smoke.

Boulder leaders began talking publicly about a smoking ban on the mall earlier this year, when Mayor Matt Appelbaum suggested at a council retreat that Boulder stay at the forefront of the anti-smoking movement by considering a ban downtown.

Several council members interviewed Thursday said they support the idea of a ban.

"I think of the Pearl Street Mall as our marquee location in town," said Councilman Tim Plass. "I think smoking on the mall doesn't fit with our image."

Plass said the littered cigarette butts and secondhand smoke take away from the Pearl Street experience.

"Back when we put bans on smoking in restaurants and bars indoors, there were all these predictions of gloom and doom, and that's not been the case at all," Plass aid.

He said he expects the council will have some initial resistance from those who have ideological concerns about more government regulations.

For Deputy Mayor Lisa Morzel, the potential smoking ban is something she supports as a public health policy but one that also affects her on a personal level. She said her mother and sister -- both longtime smokers -- died of illnesses caused by smoking. She's concerned about the teenagers she sees smoking on the mall and wants the city to send a message that "smoking is not cool."

"I'm completely supportive of the ban," Morzel said. "We're overdue for this. I think people have a right to be free of secondhand smoke. I think it will only help businesses. I don't think there are any doubts about the health hazards of first- or secondhand smoke."

Councilman Ken Wilson said he's generally supportive of the ban and is looking forward to hearing from downtown businesses.

"Pearl Street Mall is a good place for Boulder to try the ban," he said.

Margaret Parkhurst, of Eads News and Smoke Shop in Boulder, said even she favors the ban.

"I'm personally for it," she said. "I've been selling cigarettes for 30 years, and I think it's a good idea."

Landon Stevens, 29, smoked a cigarette on the Pearl Street Mall on Thursday night before heading over to the Boulder Theater for a concert. A Longmont resident, Stevens said he visits the mall a couple of times a month.

He said he could see how a smoking ban could be desirable for restaurants and retail businesses in the area, but he expressed concerns about how a ban might affect bar patrons, noting that people who are drinking tend to smoke more often,

"I don't know where the bars would send people," he said. "I guess I could see it, but we're outside. It's not like we're blowing smoke in people's faces or it's really tight quarters out here. It's not hard to avoid."

Gregg Hogan, of Massachusetts, smoked a cigarette in front of Boulder Cafe with a few friends Thursday.

"I think it's going to be hard to enforce," said the former Boulder resident. "You're not supposed to ride bikes or walk dogs on Pearl Street, and you see that every day. If I get caught, are they going to write me a ticket? Because if they do, I want to see all these other people get tickets."

Earlier this year, an internal city report concluded that about 5 percent of Boulder's government workers are smokers. Data from the National Center for Health Statistics shows that about 13 percent of Boulder County residents smoked every day or most days in 2011.

The city has been a pioneer when it comes to smoking bans, beginning with a 1989 ban that applied to theaters, lobbies, grocery stores, hallways, restrooms, on buses and in the workplace. Restaurants with more than 30 seats were required to provide a non-smoking section.

When the city extended its rules in 1995 to include a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, workplaces and retail stores, it was among the first municipalities to adopt broad anti-smoking measures.

In July 2006, a statewide ban on smoking in restaurants, bars and workplaces was enacted.

The City Council in 2009 amended its ban to keep smoking at least 15 feet away from all entrances of buildings, except for single-family homes, and to prohibit smoking on enclosed porches or balconies. Seventy-five percent of all hotel and motel rooms in the city are required to be non-smoking.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or anasb@dailycamera.com.