Boulder officially began enforcing the city's Pearl Street Mall smoking ban Monday, more than two months after it became illegal to light up along the popular shopping district, and a little more than a week after "No Smoking" signs finally went up.

The ordinance banning smoking on the mall between 11th and 15th streets went into effect Jan. 18, but officers only had been giving out warnings since signs alerting the public to the new law were not ready. The placards finally went up March 21.

Boulder County also has banned smoking on the lawn of the county courthouse along the mall.

David and Vicki Allen -- who came up to Pearl Street from Denver on Monday-- both agreed the ban was a good idea.

"Outdoor smoke carries," David Allen said. "It isn't as bad as indoor smoke, but it's bothersome and unhealthy to a degree."

As to whether people will respect the ban, Vicki Allen said she thinks they will if officers follow through and actually write tickets.

"It depends on the enforcement," she said.

Boulder police spokeswoman Kim Kobel said officers will be able to use their discretion when choosing whether to ticket someone for smoking.

"Ultimately, we would like people to comply voluntarily with the ordinance versus writing them a ticket," she said. "Officers may continue to focus on educating people who have not been contacted about the smoking ban previously, but they may choose to write tickets to people they know they've already spoken to in the past or to repeat offenders."

Police officials said they were unable to determine Monday whether any tickets had yet been issued.

While standing on the pedestrian mall near 13th Street on Monday, a man who identified himself as Griffin smoked a cigarette even as a Boulder police squad car drove past him. Griffin said he was aware of the ban, and, when he can, he tries to move off the mall to smoke.

"I would say it's kind of a pain to deal with as a smoker, but I try to move 20 feet off the bricks because it's a hefty fine," he said.

The maximum penalty for a first or second offense within two years is a $500 fine, while a third conviction within two years carries a maximum $1,000 fine and a maximum 90-day jail sentence.

Griffin said that while he himself is a smoker, he actually agrees with the ban.

"There are some underage kids here, and they see older people smoking," he said. "But, at the same time, it is a public place, but for the most part I like walking without breathing in smoke."

The Downtown Boulder Inc. board, the city's Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and the Boulder County commissioners all supported the mall smoking ban.

Paul Cory visits Boulder from Oklahoma to see his sister and normally stops by the mall when he's in town. He said the last time he visited Pearl Street, a large group of people were smoking near him -- so he thinks the ban is a good idea.

"I think less and less people smoke, but it's still annoying," he said.

Cory added that with Boulder's more accepting attitudes toward marijuana, a smoking ban was even more appropriate.

"That's one thing I definitely don't want to breathe in while I'm enjoying the day outside," he said.

An event celebrating the smoking ban will be held 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. April 12 in the 1300 block of Pearl Street. County, city and Downtown Boulder Inc. staff will be available to answer questions about the ban and offer resources for those who wish to quit smoking.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Mitchell Byars at 303-473-1329 or byarsm@dailycamera.com.