Providence mayor vetoes downtown smoking ban

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The mayor of Providence has vetoed a measure that would ban smoking in parts of downtown.

Mayor Jorge Elorza issued the veto on Friday. The ordinance would have banned the use of tobacco products in the areas around Kennedy Plaza and Burnside Park.

In a letter to the council, Elorza says that while the ban is ostensibly about smoking, the true target is the homeless community. He says the ordinance would criminalize poverty, be a waste of police resources and be ineffective.

The ban has been pushed by a group of businessmen led by former Mayor Joseph Paolino, a major downtown property owner.

The council passed the proposal 8-5, short of the 10 votes needed to override a veto.

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