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Health Groups Applaud East Baton Rouge Metro Council for Guaranteeing Right to Breathe Clean Air for All

Aug. 10, 2017

East Baton Rouge Parish joined a growing list of the world’s great cities on August 9, 2017, when the Metropolitan Council voted 7-5 for a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance guaranteeing workers throughout East Baton Rouge Parish the right to breathe clean air.

The Smoke-free EBR coalition applauds and thanks the Metro Council for their votes in favor of protecting the health of all employees in the parish by making all workplaces – including bars and gaming establishments – completely smoke-free.

The smoke-free ordinance was co-sponsored by seven council members and extends the 2007 statewide smoke-free law to include previously exempt businesses such as bars and casinos. As a result, bartenders and bar workers, gaming facility employees, entertainers, and vendors will be protected from the dangerous health effects of secondhand smoke in the workplace. The ordinance will go into effect on June 1, 2018. While the Coalition would have preferred less of a delay in implementation, passage of the measure remained paramount.

“We are tremendously grateful to all the community leaders and city officials who stood up and took action to protect the health of all employees,” said Tonia Moore, Director of the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living (TFL). “We want to send a special thanks to the ordinance sponsors who have championed this effort since it began over a year ago - Chauna Banks, Donna Collins-Lewis, Erika Green, Tara Wicker, and LaMont Cole. These leaders not only did the right thing for the health of all East Baton Rouge citizens, but they have continued paving the way for other cities and the state to do the same.”

“East Baton Rouge Parish has just become a very important leader in the fight against cancer,” said Raegan Carter, Coalition spokesperson and Region 2 Manager for TFL. “We are very grateful to the Metro Council for listening to the voices of local citizens and passing an ordinance ensuring bar and casino workers will no longer have to choose between their health and a paycheck.”

The following members of the Council voted in support of the smoke-free ordinance:

Chauna Banks, LaMont Cole, Donna Collins-Lewis, Barbara Freiberg, Erika Green, Matt Watson and Tara Wicker.

“This has been a long and difficult fight, but we know East Baton Rouge Parish will be a better community as a result. We are so thankful for the outstanding officials who voted to support this life-saving proposal. I’m not overstating our position. This law will save lives,” Carter added.

“We have seen a great example of people coming together seeking positive action from their government leaders and having those leaders understand the health hazards that secondhand smoke causes and effectively representing the voices of the non-smoking majority,” said Cynthia Hallett, President and CEO, American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation. “East Baton Rouge Parish now joins New Orleans, Lafayette and other top tourist destinations across the nation that feature comprehensive smoke-free ordinances, including Austin, Dallas, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Honolulu, and New York City.”

Smoking kills more than 7,200 Louisianians and costs Louisiana taxpayers $1.89 billion in health care expenses every year. Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, hundreds of them toxic and at least 70 cancer-causing. In addition, the Surgeon General has found that secondhand smoke causes heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults and respiratory problems, sudden infant death syndrome, and low birth weight in infants and children.

The Smoke-free EBR Coalition comprises the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Lung Association in Louisiana, the American Heart Association, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living (TFL), the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation and numerous other local and national organizations. For more information, visit our website at SmokefreeEBR.org.