PROVIDENCE, RI— The Providence City
Council tonight voted to override Mayor Elorza’s veto of an ordinance that aims
to protect the public from secondhand smoke in a dense area of public spaces
that comprise Providence’s downtown core. The ordinance was approved by the
Council on May 24th and vetoed by Mayor Elorza on June 2nd. Tonight’s vote effectively sets the ordinance
The area in which smoking will be
prohibited is home to high-density foot traffic and is used by thousands of
people— including residents, visitors, and children— on a daily basis
year-round. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
second-hand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, 70 of which cause cancer.
The CDC states the only way to fully protect non-smokers is the elimination of
smoking from all homes, worksites and public places. The World Health
Organization reports that almost half of children regularly breathe air
polluted by tobacco in public places.
“Everyone deserves access to
healthy public spaces,” said Acting Council President Sabina Matos. “There is
no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke. This is a commonsense measure
that mitigates second-hand smoke exposure in our most congested public spaces.”
Smoking is already prohibited in
parks, playgrounds, and areas around schools. With similar restrictions already
in place throughout the City of Providence, Matos sees this ordinance as an
extension of existing policy.
“We all know that second hand smoke
is detrimental to health,” said Finance Committee Chairman John Igliozzi.
“Legislation that promotes public health is always good public policy.”
Many municipalities around the
country have enacted similar or more extensive laws regarding smoking in public
Calabasas, CA enacted a smoking ban
in 2006 that makes it a misdemeanor to smoke where a non-smoker could
congregate. This includes public sidewalks as well as apartment complexes. This
is punishable by a fine of at least $250.
Boise, ID enacted a ban in 2012
that bans smoking from all public places accessible to children and all spaces
owned by the public.
In 2012, Alameda, CA enacted a
smoking ban that prohibits smoking in outdoor public places, including
commercial-area sidewalks, defined as public sidewalks in downtown shopping and