Mayor Landrieu To Sign Smoke-Free Ordinance Friday
NEW ORLEANS – Mayor Mitch Landrieu will sign the recently passed smoke-free ordinance on Friday, Jan. 30, 2015. The New Orleans City Council unanimously passed the ordinance on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015.
The signing ceremony is scheduled to take place at 12:00 p.m. at the Mayor’s Office in City Hall, 1300 Perdido St., New Orleans, 2nd Floor.
Mayor Landrieu will be joined by members of the New Orleans City Council and public health advocates.
The City Council said, in an effort to protect the health of musicians and entertainment industry workers, they voted to ban smoking in bars and gambling halls.
New Orleans has been one of the last major American cities to allow people to smoke tobacco in bars. Smoking at indoor restaurants is no longer permitted.
For a city that thrives on tourism, and its image as a party town, passing the ban was fraught with reservations. But several council members said they were persuaded to approve the ban to protect the health of residents and those people who work in the city's entertainment industry and are subjected to secondhand smoke.
Logan Gaskill, a lawyer for Harrah's New Orleans, said the casino predicted a 20 percent decline in revenues from the ban.
In December, Louisiana State Police, the agency overseeing gambling, projected a loss of $104 million in revenues and state fees in two years following a smoking ban. Besides Harrah's casino, there is a busy horse racing track and many video poker halls in New Orleans. But proponents have pointed to other studies that show bans actually drive up business and reduce medical costs.
The ban instructs that the New Orleans police won't have to enforce the ordinance, and smoking will be allowed within 5 feet of bar entrances — not 25 feet away as first proposed.
Smoking will also be allowed in parks, cigar shops and hookah bars already in existence.
Individuals who break the ordinance face fines of $50. Penalties for business owners or managers start at a $100 fine for a first offense and grow from there. Owners also could face the loss of their license to sell alcohol.
District B New Orleans Council Member LaToya Cantrell said, “Since 1964, 2.5 million nonsmokers have died from exposure to secondhand smoke. Smoke-free laws can reduce the risk of heart disease and lung cancer among nonsmokers. Not only will this newly passed smoke-free ordinance do wonders for the health of our fellow artists, musicians and service workers who’ve endured secondhand smoke in their jobs, but it will make strides in improving the overall health of our city’s residents.”
“Supporters of this ordinance are the backbone of our efforts,” Cantrell said, “standing up for a voiceless community – individuals that work in the bars and casinos, and the friends and family of these workers – who don’t have the luxury of choosing where they can work, but are often forced to risk their health in order to feed their families. The discussions over a smoke-free New Orleans have culminated into a public health victory that we can be proud of.”
– With information from AP Reporter Cain Burdeau