Leaders and coalition members met Thursday at Sand Bar in downtown Shreveport to discuss the ongoing issue of the smoking ban.
Smoke-Free Louisiana as well as the Region 7 Louisiana Healthy Communities Coalition worked as a joint effort to host the news conference.
The smoking ban hit the Shreveport City Council last summer and was placed on the agenda as Ordinance No. 50 and was named the Smoke Free Air Act. This ordinance was passed in June of 2020 and banned smoking in bars, casinos, and gaming facilities.
This ordinance was supposed to take effect on Aug. 8, 2020. However, Shreveport City Councilman Jerry Bowman introduced legislation requesting the ban for casinos and gaming facilities to go into effect on Aug. 1, 2021.
With eight weeks left on the countdown to Smoke-Free Shreveport, leaders and coalition members came out to remind the public of the issue.
Randy Hayden President of Creative Communications said, “Our task now is to make sure Shreveport is a smoke-free Shreveport.”
Councilwoman LeVette Fuller from Shreveport City Council came out to support the event. Fuller was one of the three council members who sponsored and drafted this ordinance a year ago.
“It’s time for Shreveport to show the world who we are and that we care about our community and the working environments for everyone in this community,” said Fuller. “We gave this a year.”
Once the Smoke-Free Air Act is enacted Shreveport will be among 29 fellow cities in Louisiana that stand for smoke-free acts. Currently, Shreveport and Lake Charles are the only two large market cities that do not have smoking bans.
In 2007 Louisiana passed a statewide smoke-free law. So, why is there still smoking in bars? Well, the law had loopholes which were bars, casinos, Mardi Gras balls, nursing homes, hotels, and veterans’ homes.
“Quite a few states have already passed the statewide laws, and other states are doing what Louisiana is doing. Which that is kind of nickel and diming it, community by community,” Hayden said.
Although, Shreveport has been in the waiting process for over a year community leaders and community servants came out Thursday in support of this act. Among those leaders was Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport CEO Chuck Daigle who came out and spoke in support.
“We want to do everything we can to prevent secondhand smoke and I think this initiative is a great initiative on behalf of our state. I applaud Smoke-Free Louisiana for the work they are doing,'' Daigle said.
Countless leaders are behind the act, but many businesses are not behind the ban and worry for their business. Tim Huck, owner of Sand Bar, is 100% behind this ban but not all business leaders share his sentiment.
Fuller bluntly pointed out the worries of many leaders and businesses.
“We are worried about the economy; we are worried about losing jobs but we’ve got more jobs coming in and I am optimistic that’s just the first sight of many things to come,” said Fuller.
The goal of the ban is to limit the exposure of secondhand smoke to employees as well as customers. Although some are worried about this ban it is for the greater good of Shreveport.
“This has been an ongoing fight and I think we are all excited to be at this point where we can allow all of us to feel healthier when we go inside a business,'' Region 7 Medical Director Dr. Martha Whyte said. "We know we are not going to be confronted with smoke whether we smoke or not. We know smoking is harmful firsthand and secondhand.”
Bossier City is currently not following suit of this ban, but as Fuller closing remarks the goal of Smoke-Free Louisiana as well as the Region 7 Louisiana Healthy Communities Coalition is to make Louisiana 100% smoke-free.
“I can’t wait to see Bossier City follow suit,” said Fuller.