City Launches Website To Educate Public On Smoke-Free Ordinance

NEW ORLEANS – The City of New Orleans launched a website today to educate the public on the new smoke-free ordinance scheduled to take effect on Wednesday, April 22, 2015.

         In addition to smoking restrictions that already exist under state law, the new ordinance will restrict smoking and vaping (use of electronic smoking devices) in many locations throughout the city of New Orleans, including most bars, restaurants, casinos and workplaces. As the lead agency for the ordinance’s implementation, the New Orleans Health Department said the website is the beginning of a public awareness campaign aimed at educating the public, particularly business owners, on the new ordinance.

         “Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States,” Charlotte Parent, director of the New Orleans Department of Health, said. “This smoke-free ordinance will protect the public’s health by reducing exposure to secondhand smoke and encouraging smokers to quit. We are launching this website and will be proactively reaching out to businesses in New Orleans because we want to work with the community to ensure a successful launch of this major public health initiative, which will improve health outcomes for generations to come.”

         “We welcome this new website as another great step for a strong, healthy smoke-free community,” Councilmember Latoya Cantrell said. “I know that implementing this ordinance is the right direction for the city just by the number of people from all walks of life who have stopped and thanked me and my fellow Council members for standing up and voting unanimously to protect the health of our citizens and visitors.”

         The City said the website is the first in a series of steps it will take to educate and engage the community as the new ordinance is fully implemented. The Health Department is also partnering with Healthier Air For All, an initiative of The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco Free Living, to distribute a letter to every business in New Orleans announcing the website and encouraging business owners to register for a free toolkit that will help them comply with the ordinance. The kit will include a factsheet and description of the ordinance, signage to be posted in businesses, educational materials and resources for quitting smoking. The Health Department also plans to hold two public information sessions in the coming weeks for any resident who wishes to learn more about the ordinance; those dates and times will be posted on the website and advised to the media in the coming days.

         “With the countdown to #SmokeFreeNOLA at 33 days, we’re proud to see our collaboration with the City of New Orleans on promoting smoke-free ordinance education coming to fruition with the launch of the ordinance’s website,” Tonia Moore, associate director of The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco Free Living (TFL), said. “The City’s toolkits, along with free cessation information and other resources available on www.healthierairforall.org, will make the smoke-free transition as easy as possible for our local business owners, employees and patrons. We are tremendously grateful to all the key City officials and our coalition partners who stood up and took action to protect the health of all employees and look forward to the celebration on April 22.”

         Beginning April 22, 2015, residents may report violations of the City’s smoke-free ordinance by calling 311 or visiting http://www.nola.gov/smokefree. The Health Department will notify businesses of complaints after they are received. However, penalties will not be levied until the City proposes an implementation plan of specific rules and regulations to the City Council and the Council has reviewed and adopted a final plan – a process the City expects to complete this summer.

         As the City develops an implementation plan, Parent said the Health Department will host two public hearings in the coming months to receive comments from residents. The public hearings will be posted on the nola.gov/smokefree website and advised to the media when they are scheduled.

          “We want the public’s participation and input as we begin to carefully draft the rules and regulations on how this smoke-free ordinance will be implemented,” said Parent. “We know from other jurisdictions that a fully-comprehensive and robust public awareness campaign, combined with an effective implementation plan, helps ensure a smooth transition and greatly increases compliance. Our goal is to make this process as transparent and efficient as possible so that we can take a major step forward together in making New Orleans a healthier place to live, work and play.”

         The website can be viewed here

 

 

 

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