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Louisiana’s Restaurant, Hospitality Industry Benefitting Ten Years After Smoke-Free Air Act

Smoke-free dining is the new normal, but more work remains. January 2017 marks the ten year anniversary of one of the most significant victories for public health in Louisiana, the enactment of the Smoke-Free Air Act (Act 815). During the 2006 Louisiana Regular Legislative Session, Robert Marionneaux, Jr., after having worked closely with the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Louisiana (CTFLA), introduced Senate Bill 742. It was passed and signed into law by Governor Kathleen Blanco to prohibit smoking in buildings, schools, other public places, inside places of employment, and most significantly restaurants. Senate Bill 742, commonly referred to as Act 815 or the Louisiana Smoke-Free Air Act, went into effect January 1, 2007. According to the National Restaurant Association’s data, restaurants are one of the leading driving forces in Louisiana’s economy. This accompanied with the fact that hospitality employment has increased after the smoke-free air act clearly shows that the restaurant industry and those who work in and visit them have benefitted from the

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Hammond city council has solidly rejected a proposal to change the city’s smoke-free air law

Hammond city council has solidly rejected a proposal to change the city's smoke-free air law. The proposal would have allowed smoking in "all enclosed public spaces within the city of Hammond which contain a ceiling or wall mounted air purification system rated and operating at 95 percent efficiency" except for private residences used for child care, adult day care or health care facilities. "I am pleased that by a majority vote, the Hammond City Council has agreed that revisiting the non-smoking ban is not in the best interest of our community. I think by the vote tonight, we are saying that this current council is not interested in making any exception in the current law," said Councilman Lemar Marshal Tuesday evening after the council vote. "In my opinion, this is a workplace issue," he said. "All employees should have the right to work in an environment that is free of toxic air."

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Bogalusa passes comprehensive smoking ban

The Bogalusa City Council passed a comprehensive smoking ban Tuesday night. The ban outlaws smoking in all public buildings and private clubs. Bogalusa is now the 10th city in the state to pass such a ban. Council members said it was a tough vote and it almost didn’t happen. However, after first proposing the ban and then offering to table it, Councilwoman Gloria Kates pressed forward and asked for a vote. The ordinance passed unanimously. However, Kates also asked that the city not immediately enforce the ban in bars, which are perhaps the only public establishments in Bogalusa that allow indoor smoking. Nevertheless, the ordinance drew swift praise from a statewide group, the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living (TFL). In a press release issued hours after the vote, TFL director Tonia Moore praised the decision. “This ordinance is about protecting the health for all in Bogalusa, plain and simple,” Moore said. “Everyone in Bogalusa has a right to breathe clean air and I applaud the Bogalusa Council for their courage in passing this

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Little resistance to smoking ban at New Orleans bars a year later

In the weeks leading up to the ban on smoking in New Orleans bars, dire consequences were predicted. And then the law passed, most people obeyed it and the drinking culture of the city carried on its merry way. "Everybody complained, but it's the law," said David Arsenault, who has been a bartender for 17 years at Brothers Three on Magazine Street. In the first eight months after the smoking ban, the city dealt with a number of complaints about bars violating the new law. Multiple complaints were lodged against a few bars and clubs, such as the House of Blues and the Bourbon Street strip club Scores. But since December 2015, the city has not received a single complaint about bars violating the smoking ban. It's worked out really well," said Steve Watson, who owns the once notoriously smoky bar the Kingpin. "The initial month or so people were in shock. People weren't drinking as much." But people, as the are wont to do in New Orleans, have gone back to drinking. And Watson has even seen at the Kingpin more

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When smoke gets in our lungs

Some years ago, I used to look at going to a bar or a music venue and the requisite cigarette smoke as one in the same; a package deal, you might say. I thought we had no choice (good job, tobacco lobby). I figured that the smoke came with the territory, part of being an adult in an adult socializing world. To me, smoking was just someone else's vice to accompany the vice I sought in the bottle behind the bar. I'll never forget how I used to bury my smoky clothes from the evening out at the bottom of the clothes basket, or simply put them outside to air out. I remember smelling the smoke/chemical odor again later on in the shower as it rolled down from my hair and covered my face in liquid form. It was worse than walking in a smoking club in the first place. Every time I see the "no smoking" sign on airplanes and hear the no smoking in the lavatory routine, I smirk. To think that people were allowed to smoke in such cramped, airtight quarters would be laughable if it weren't so sad. Anyway, Lafayette City-Parish Council Chairman Kenneth

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Raising cigarette tax has healthy benefits

I don’t hate many things outright. But I can say with some measure of certainty I hate cigarettes. I hate everything about them. The smell. The taste. The chemicals. The butts. There’s nothing nice about them, but our young people continue to be suckered into the idea they are cool if they smoke, so they light up and another generation is hooked. Addicted for life, most likely. That’s why I’m hopeful this will be the year that our lawmakers send the industry a strong message — we value health over commerce by raising the state’s cigarette excise tax. House Bill 77 filed by state Rep. Harold Ritchie of Bogalusa proposes a constitutional amendment that would levy an additional tax of $1.18 per pack of 20 cigarettes, increasing the total tax per pack from 36 cents to $1.54 per pack. If it survives passage, the proposed amendment would come before voters in a statewide election Oct. 24. According to the Louisiana Public Health Institute, the passage of the amendment would result in about $223.5 million in additional dollars added to the

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