BOULDER -- Boulder County commissioners have endorsed the idea of banning outdoors smoking on downtown Boulder's Pearl Street Mall, including the lawn and plaza area in front of the county courthouse at 1325 Pearl St.

The courthouse lawn "is a public area that is enjoyed year-round by residents and visitors, as well as employees of Boulder County and downtown businesses," county board chairwoman Cindy Domenico wrote Boulder city officials last week.

"This area attracts school classes, families, seniors, children and others enjoying fresh air in this outdoor space," Domenico said in the Oct. 2 letter, a position she and Commissioner Will Toor formally ratified during the board's Tuesday morning business meeting. Commissioner Deb Gardner wasn't present for the meeting.

The Boulder City Council is considering prohibiting outdoor smoking on the pedestrian mall between 11th and 15th streets and is expected to cast a preliminary vote later this month on an ordinance that would impose the ban.

Including the courthouse lawn as part of a proposed smoke-free Pearl Street Mall area would be consistent with Boulder County government policies "to limit smoking on county property," Domenico said in her letter to Boulder's Mayor Matt Appelbaum, the city council and city manager Jane Brautigam.

At Tuesday's meeting, Toor said he found the amount of cigarette butts tossed on the lawn to be "quite distressing." He said an outdoor ban is justified "from a littering perspective" as well as because of concerns about the public's exposure to secondhand smoke.


Domenico recounted having seen a small child picking up one of the discarded cigarette butts.

As of Tuesday morning, there were still outdoor cigarette butt receptacles stationed outside the courthouse's front entrance and on a sidewalk behind the downtown county building.

But Domenico said commissioners will be considering a change to their own policies to make the entire downtown county office campus -- including the grounds of the courthouse and the nearby courthouse annex at 2045 13th St., a building that houses the Land Use Department -- smoke-free.

Domenico wrote Boulder city officials that "even limited exposure to secondhand smoke can pose health risks, such as triggering asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes. We value the health of our community, our guests and our environment, and we are in full support of initiatives -- such as creating a smoke-free Pearl Street Mall -- that will help to ensure clean air for everyone."

John Fryar can be reached at 303-684-5211 or