lawsuit seeking to stop the ordinance from taking effect. A state judge declined to stop the city from enforcing the ban but set a May 21 hearing on the matter.
“All we’ve been trying to do with this lawsuit is slow the process down,” said Alex Fein of the Court of Two Sisters restaurant and bar. “We don’t feel like they vetted the process enough.”
Business owners warn that the ban may cut into revenues by as much as 20 per cent in the first year.
The city council passed the smoking ordinance in late January and Mayor Mitch Landrieu quickly signed it into law. The city’s leaders are supporting the ban primarily as a health measure and say bans in other cities have not hurt business profits in the long run.
The ban has enjoyed the support of many prominent musicians who complain that smoky bars are unhealthy.
“This is my instrument, and I need to be able to breathe when I’m trying to sing,” said jazz singer John Boutte, who says he stopped smoking more than 14 years ago. “I know you have a right to smoke, but I have a right not to smoke, too. So, I mean, we have to make a compromise somewhere in there. I’m not going to tell you not to smoke. I just don’t want you to blow it in my face.”
Boutte performs regularly at d.b.a., a club on Frenchmen Street that voluntarily went smoke-free years ago.
The ban, though, will be a big change in a city with more than 500 bars, many of them neighbourhood hangouts where smoking is part of the fabric of life.
“I don’t agree with no part of it,” said Larry Simmons, a 52-year-old
Patrons will no longer be permitted to smoke inside Kajun’s Pub in New Orleans.