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

Mayor Jorge Elorza (HOR’-hay ay-LOR’-sah) 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 (pay-oh-LEE’-noh), a major downtown property owner.

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