A newly enacted smoking ban for the downtown area of Providence, R.I. appears headed for a fight, as Mayor Jorge Elorza has promised to veto the bill, even though he generally supports it.
The proposal, which passed by a 10-3 vote of the city council on Thursday, prohibits the use of all tobacco products and electronic smoking devices in the Kennedy Plaza and Burnside Park areas, as well as throughout the surrounding neighborhood, though private residences are exempt from the ban. Violators would be subject to a warning on their initial violation before being hit with a $50 fine for a second offense.
Critics have called it a way to drive the homeless out of the area and worry about spreading the police staff too thin, as they would be in charge of enforcing the ban, while also straining relations between officers and the public. Supporters see it as a way to improve the health of people passing through a well-trafficked area.
While the bill proposal must still go through a second reading and vote, Thursday night’s meeting showed that at the moment, the ordinance has 10 supporters, the minimum needed to override the mayor’s veto.
Providence is the capital of Rhode Island and home to roughly 180,000 people.