Political Setback: Elorza’s Veto of ‘No Smoking’ Ordinance Overridden by Council

Friday, June 16, 2017

 

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Mayor Jorge Elorza

In one of the biggest public battles between the Providence City Council and Mayor Jorge Elorza, the Providence City Council overrode the veto by the Mayor 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 has strong support by health advocates and the downtown business community. But, was opposed by Elorza and the ACLU.

“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.

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Councilman John Igliozzi

“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.”

Elorza: Ordinance Criminalizes Poverty

Elorza fired back, “"I’m extremely disappointed by the City Council’s decision to pass a bill that transparently criminalizes poverty. The enforcement of this ordinance is not a solution as it does nothing to address the problem at its root. It will place additional strain on our officers, waste resources and time, and will prove to be ineffective as it will only push folks to other locations.  I will continue to work with our community partners to advocate for more effective solutions that do not target the homeless and poor."

It is highly unusual for a council to override a Mayor in Providence — this vote is considered a political and policy setback for the Mayor.

The override passed 11-2 with Council member Mary Kay Harris abstaining, and Carmen Castillo and Michael Correia both voting “no.” There is a vacancy on the council with the recall of Kevin Jackson.

The ordinance was originally approved by the Council on May 24 and then vetoed by Mayor Elorza on June 2nd.  Thursday'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.

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Councilwoman Matos

Many municipalities around the country have enacted similar or more extensive laws regarding smoking in public areas.

According to the City Council, 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.

 

Related Slideshow: 10 Tips to Finally Quit Smoking

Here are 10 tips to help you quit smoking. 

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Pick a Date

Pick a quit date and put it on your calendar in ink— this is the starting point to making your plan.  Pretty much all of the experts agree that picking a date is the most important first step.  The key is to pick a date that is no more than one month away — if it is too far out, you will either lose your will or rationalize your way into an extension, and if it is too soon i.e. the nefarious tomorrow, you will only fail for lack of planning.  Everything that follows should be set up to make that quit date a success.

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Honesty

Be honest with yourself.  Admit that you are an addict.  Own up to the seriousness and the entirety of your addiction.  If you are lying to yourself about how strong your addiction is, you won’t properly prepare yourself for quitting.  Instead you’ll set yourself up for failure.  Pay attention to how much you truly smoke — write it down, and prepare yourself to move on.

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Triggers

Write down your triggers. One of the keys to successful quitting is to be thoroughly prepared for the things that set you off. Do you always smoke when you drink?  Every time you have a stressful encounter with your partner do you smoke to calm down?  By cataloging the things that get you jonesing for a cigarette, you will be able to systematically prepare other options for handling those situations.

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Plan Ahead

Plan for your triggers.  When the urge strikes and is overwhelming, what will you do instead of bumming or buying cigarettes?  Take up knitting so you have something to do with your hands.  Keep carrot sticks with you so you have something to munch on.  Munch on sunflower seeds.  Have a friend you can call.  Take a walk. Make sure you always have something on hand that you can use to distract you until the urge passes (and trust that it will pass).   

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Watch the Clock

In the week leading up to your quit date, begin to break your habit by smoking by the clock instead of by situation.  Most smokers smoke during or after certain events: the first cigarette when you wake up, a cigarette on the drive to work, a cigarette after lunch, another before the conference call and so on.  For this week parcel out your cigarettes according to the clock.  For instance, allow yourself one cigarette every two hours beginning at 6:00 am.  Stick to this within 5 minutes on either side.  If you wake up at 6:06, you missed your first cigarette and have to wait until 8:00.  If you miss your noon cigarette you must wait until 2:00 and so on.  It is the habit of smoking, the mental association between your tasks and stressors and smoking that is the hardest to break.  Doing this gives you a head start.  

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Get Support

Get support. For some of you that may mean talking to your doctor about medication or using the patch.  For others that may mean using acupuncture and herbs.  For some of you it will mean all of the above.  Both methods have much higher success rates at producing quitters than if you quit on your own.  There are also support groups and hotlines that offer instant help when you need it most.  Here are a few places to start:

 

Call your doctor or find an acupuncturist so they can help you with your plan.

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Avoid Your Other Vices

Avoid alcohol, smoking pot and other situations that you associate with smoking for 4-6 weeks while the quitting is the most difficult.  

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Throw Away the Past

The night before you quit get rid of your cigarettes, ash trays and lighters.  You need to make it at least moderately difficult to smoke. Quit carrying the cash you use to buy cigarettes. Avoid the store you stop at for a candy bar and cigarettes. Basically, put up as many obstacles as you can to smoking.

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Avoid Certain People

Avoid the people who trigger you (as much as possible).  If they are friends they will understand, and if they are jerks you should avoid them anyway.

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Treat Yourself

Give yourself rewards for quitting.  The most obvious is to take the money you would have spent on cigarettes and buy yourself a weekly or monthly celebratory treat. Somedays this might be the only thing that keeps you going.

 
 

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