A proposal to ban smoking in the downtown area of Providence, R.I. got a favorable vote in its second reading on Wednesday night, but a change in the tally has it appearing not as veto-proof as it did earlier this month.
The second vote was 8-5 in favor, a change from the 10-3 vote it received at its first reading. It’s an important development because Mayor Jorge Elorza has long promised to veto the bill, even though he generally supports it. To override the veto, the city council would need to have 10 votes in favor of it, something that now appears to be in question.
Complaints about the ban have been plentiful, with opponents calling it a flawed means to drive the homeless out of the area, while also tasking the police force with an additional matter to enforce when they are spread thin as is, in addition to straining relations between the department and the public.
The ban 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. Violators would be subject to a warning on their initial violation before being hit with a $50 fine for a second offense.
Providence is the capital of Rhode Island and home to roughly 180,000 people.