Proposal to ban smoking in part of downtown Providence to get City Council vote

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The proposed smoking ban in part of downtown Providence is going to get a vote from the City Council.

A council subcommittee voted 4-1 Monday to send the ordinance – which would create a no smoking boundary in the area surrounding Kennedy Plaza and Burnside Park – to the full council for consideration.

The ordinance, which is supported by a group of downtown businessmen led by former Mayor Joseph Paolino, has been refined to ban smoking in a much smaller part of downtown.

A previous version of the proposal would have prohibited smoking – including electronic smoking devices – on all “non-enclosed sidewalks and other pedestrian areas” throughout most of downtown. Smoking would have only been permitted in private residences, private vehicles and on private property unless the owner prohibits tobacco use.

Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan, who represents parts of Mount Pleasant and Elmhurst, called the proposal a “good solid ordinance that is a compromise.” Only Councilwoman Carmen Castillo, who represents parts of South Providence, voted no Monday.

Penalties for violating the ordinance would include a warning for the first offense followed by a $50 fine for each successive offense.

The smoking ban was quickly approved just minutes after the committee passed a high-profile police racial profiling ordinance known as the Community Safety Act (CSA). Dozens of supporters of the CSA filed out of the committee room prior to passage of the smoking ban.

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Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan