Rhode Island News
Senate approves smoking ban in public places
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ The Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a ban on smoking in the workplace and enclosed publicplaces.
The 25-7 vote sends the bill to the House, where the Labor Committee defeated a similar ban in April.
Anti-smoking advocates hope support they've enjoyed in neighboring states will generate momentum in Rhode Island, where the General Assembly has long resisted the idea.
Last month, Connecticut approved a statewide ban on smoking in bars, bowling alleys and restaurants. The Massachusetts Senate has also approved a statewide smoking ban.
The Rhode Island Senate passed the bill with little debate.
Supporters hope some changes, including eliminating fines smokers would have faced for violating the ban, will help win support in the House.
Employers who violate the ban face fines of up to $500 for third and subsequent offenses. The proposed ban would take effect March 31, 2004.
Gov. Don Carcieri has not taken a position on the bill, but is concerned it could unfairly limit people's right to smoke in private, spokesman Jeff Neal said. The Republican governor does not