Providence, R.I. Mayor Jorge Elorza has followed through on his promise to veto an expanded smoking ban for the downtown core of his city, calling the ban an attack an attempt to criminalize poverty.

On Friday, the mayor released his veto, calling the ban a target on the homeless community and a waste of the police department’s resources. He went onto say that the city has made strides to reduce crime in recent years, and that is where the department’s focus should be.

Elorza also felt it counterproductive to be ticketing visitors and tourists who unknowingly light up on the wrong sidewalk.

The first reading of the ban was approved by the city council in early May by a 10-3 vote, but those numbers changed when it came time for the second reading and vote. During the vote on May 24, it passed by an 8-5 margin, an important change because it signaled the council might no longer have the 10 votes necessary to override a veto by the mayor.

The ban has not been without its critics, who call it a flawed means to drive the homeless out of the area, while also tasking the police force with an additional matter to enforce and risking a strain on relations between the department and the public.

The ban sought to prohibit 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 get a warning on their first offense, then would face a $50 fine for a second offense.

Providence is the capital of Rhode Island and home to roughly 180,000 people.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.