Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sunday Globe Special: Puffing Away in Providence

"Could smoking be snuffed out in downtown Providence?" by Virgie Hoban Globe Correspondent  July 26, 2015

PROVIDENCE — Across the street from the Rhode Island State House, right outside a mall downtown, two men on their lunch break begin to pack up. One puts out his cigarette; the other holds on for one last puff.

And as the last orange speck flickers out, another lighter crackles a few feet away.

In recent months, the strip along Francis Street outside the Providence Place mall has become a de facto smoking section for downtown puffers. First, the city banished smokers from parks. Then, more and more businesses started shooing smokers from their doorways, leaving smokers like Robert Black, who lit up outside the mall on Thursday afternoon, with an ever-shrinking list of places to go.

Now, those remaining haunts may be going up in smoke. A former mayor — no, it’s not Buddy Cianci — wants to ban smoking from all of downtown Providence. And the president of the City Council has said he supports the prohibition.

“They’re sitting on curbs, sitting on steps, standing in the doorways of buildings . . . if it’s warm or cold, that’s what they do,” said former mayor Joseph Paolino, who fancies himself the Providence incarnation of former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who championed an array of aggressive public health initiatives. “We have an opportunity in Providence to Bloomberg our downtown. We’re halfway to China.”

(Blog editor quickly puts out cigarette)


RelatedA smoking ban that’s close to the edge of silly

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