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After a heated but not smoky debate, the city council in New Orleans have banned smoking in more areas, nearly making it impossible to smoke anywhere. The decision, the council admittedly states they do not know the financial repercussions that are possible. However, the vote was unanimous and people are lighting up about it; just not in most public places.
The council made history today because New Orleans is the largest city in Louisiana to be nearly absent of smoke due banning of said activity. This would not have been possible without Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, as she was the bill’s chief author. This case against smoking was also pushed forward by Councilman James Gray because he gave anecdotes about his family members losing their lives to lung cancer, this is to explain why he was for “some sort of ban.” Cantrell describes “Today is a good day and we are doing the right things for the right reasons.”
The main party that is directly affected are the casinos. In this area, Harrah’s Casino, Logan Gaskill, Vice President of Human Resources and Community Relations, pointed out that there will be less traffic in and out of the establishment thus less employees but mostly, less tipped employees.
The smoking ban by New Orleans city council has made many people angry, but many people are glad, such as people in the medical field, former smokers, survivors of lung cancer, and family to victims of lung cancer. For about five hours the day the decision was made people were shouting, cursing, and yelling against the ban. However, people for the ban were doing just the same.
Another party affected is an the e-cigarette company, such as Louisiana Association of Electronic Cigarrete Retailers (LAECR). This company does not understand why they have to be on the bill. As expressed by Chris Flowers “Why do you have to put e-cigarettes on the bill?” People can still smoke in the designated areas such as cigar bars and shops; outside areas of gambling halls, restaurants, and five feet outside of a bar door this is instead of the proposed 25 feet.
The amendment was billed as meant to “safeguard” people in the workplace from second hand smoke. The council admits rushing the bill into becoming a law; without even being aware of who or what the law will affect. However, Harrah’s Casino will not give up without a fight. The casino’s lawyers left a hefty amount of paperwork for each councilman and councilwoman. Gaskill projected that there will be a 20 percent decline in revenues from the ban.
It is clear that smoking bans will result in less money for the casino and for the town because it is predicted that the town will lose $104 million; but according to some everything will be fine. This is because medical costs will go down. Health is the main priority for this bill to begin with as Councilwoman Cantrell has expressed.
Smoking is nearly banned by New Orleans city council and if nothing else changes the ban will start three months from now. Another exception to the ordinance is for Mardi Gras; people can still participate in smoking at Mardi Gras.
By Jacob Dowd
Photo by N W – Flickr License