Ordinance aims to ban smoking in downtown Providence

By: Rebecca Turco

Email: rturco@abc6.com

PROVIDENCE – Smokers may not be allowed to light up outside in downtown Providence anymore.

A proposed city council ordinance (click here) is seeking to ban people from smoking outside there. “People shouldn't be exposed to [smoke] simply because they work in a building downtown or have to walk to a building downtown,” explained Council President Luis Aponte.

The idea for this ordinance came after the city banned smoking in public parks and spaces earlier this year. Aponte explained that since then, some property owners have complained that smokers have been inching closer to their buildings.

Under the ordinance, fines range from $50 for a first offense, $100 for a second and $250 for a third conviction.

Some residents called these fines a drag. “We're buying [cigarettes] and we're paying taxes on every box we buy. If we're able to buy it here, why not be able to smoke it here,” questioned Josue Paldayac.

Others, sick of second-hand smoke, feel it’s time for a change. Kiara Ramos has asthma and told ABC6 News she would be glad if the ordinance passes. “It would make it much more comfortable for me,” she explained. “I won't have to smell it, I won't have to be around it.”

Aponte said the proposed ordinance is all about making downtown – and the city as a whole – friendlier to pedestrians and businesses. “We live in a country that allows for lots of personal freedoms. At what point do our personal choices impact others in a negative way? I think that that is a line that we have to define,” he said.

The council’s ordinance committee is set to take this matter up in early September. At some point, there will be an opportunity for public comment.

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