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Staying the course in these unprecedented times requires patience, persistence, and a little bit of creativity. Although the attention of the public and lawmakers may be drawn to emerging issues, campaigns for smokefree environments continue to press forward. Despite stay-at-home restrictions and cancellations of public community events and gatherings, smokefree advocates have found ways to stay active. In the Lake Charles area, the Smokefree Southwest Louisiana Coalition transitioned to ZOOM coalition meetings to keep members engaged and connected. In cases where in-person networking meetings with stakeholder groups were unavailable, the coalition conducted virtual lunch-n-learn sessions to introduce new partners to the campaign. The campaign even partnered with the SWLA Arts and Humanities Council to support broadcasting artists who were unable to perform and showcase their talents in-person. In the Shreveport area, smokefree advocates rallied to have a strong presence at consecutive city council virtual meetings, submitting passionate virtual testimony in support of smokefree bars and casinos. As a result, the council passed an ordinance for smokefree workplaces, bars, and restaurants set to go in effect in August 2021.
Stay tuned for more exciting news from Southwest Louisiana as we continue to adapt to the emerging challenges and opportunities presented by current times.
Hear from Lake Charles LA based, two-time Grammy nominee Zydeco legend Sean Ardoin on the need for smokefree environments to support the health of Louisiana musicians.
Summary of Shreveport
We are all familiar with “Good News/Bad News” stories. The issue with Smokefree Shreveport is certainly one of those stories. Last month the Shreveport City Council voted 5-2 to endorse a comprehensive ordinance that would have prohibited smoking in virtually all businesses including bars and casinos. This would have substantially closed the gaps in Louisiana’s statewide law, which went into effect in 2007, and would have made Shreveport the 30th municipality in the state to pass a comprehensive law.
However, in the interim between passage of the ordinance and the implementation date (August 8, 2020), the casino industry and other opponents (including a State Senator in the area) stepped up their efforts and asked council members to delay implementation of the ordinance. One councilmember (who previously voted for the ordinance) agreed to author a plan to delay the start date until August 1, 2021. He was particularly strident in his insistence that there would be no compromise on a start date for casinos. His plan originally would have delayed implementation of the entire ordinance, but it was amended to continue allowing smoking on just the casino floor, and not in the casino bars. That plan eventually passed on a 4-2 vote (one member was absent).
The local Coalition did an outstanding job of delivering messages to members, all of which were read into the record during the virtual council meeting. There were dozens and dozens of responses in support of the original timeline and fewer than five notes in opposition. The industry did put in a statement which centered on an anticipated loss of revenue and a loss of jobs. The only proof offered was a statement suggesting New Orleans and Baton Rouge gaming sites lost 15% as a result of their smokefree ordinances. No mention was made of job losses (if any) or whether or not those financial “losses” have been recouped since.
The good news is that Shreveport indeed has a smokefree ordinance that will take effect on August 8, 2020, making stand-alone bars and bar areas in casinos smokefree. The bad news is that casino workers were targeted and will not be protected until August 1, 2021.
Now is the time to speak up!
Encourage businesses to reopen smokefree.
Louisiana leaders have formed multiple task forces asking for recommendations for Louisiana’s economic recovery as a result of COVID-19. A statewide database is being compiled of recommendations that will be presented to the group for their final report. NOW is the time to reopen ALL Louisiana businesses as smokefree.
Please write to your community business leaders and let them know you support smokefree workplaces. Tell them while we are protecting workers from COVID-19, we should protect EVERY Louisiana worker from deadly secondhand smoke. By doing so, we help save taxpayer dollars and SAVE LIVES.
Let's Reopen Smokefree
Louisiana currently ranks last in America’s healthcare outcomes.
Louisiana is one of the top smoking states (per capita) in America, the consequences of which we pay for in tax dollars, chronic illness, and deaths associated with smoking and secondhand smoke exposure.
Unfortunately, Louisiana has a statewide smokefree law protecting some, but not all, Louisiana employees. That law took effect in January of 2007, but it exempts establishments where employees are most exposed to secondhand smoke, including bars, casinos, hotel rooms, nursing homes, veterans' homes, and more. Since that time, numerous Louisiana municipalities including New Orleans, East Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and others have passed comprehensive ordinances to protect ALL employees from deadly secondhand smoke. Read more about the gaps in smokefree protections for Louisiana.
It’s time for EVERY employee in Louisiana to have a smokefree workplace, and now is the perfect time for Louisiana businesses, including casinos, to go smokefree