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 into law.
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 areas.
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 business areas.