Smok­ing in­side bars of­fi­cially now off-lim­its in New Or­leans


Bars and gam­bling venues in this no­to­ri­ously lib­er­tine city are adapt­ing to a big change: the start of a smoke-free or­di­nance Wed­nes­day was be­ing marked as a his­toric step in mak­ing the city health­ier.

At mid­night Tues­day, smok­ing in­side the city’s more than 500 bars and gam­bling venues — in­clud­ing the ma­jor down­town Har­rah’s New Or­leans casino — be­came off-lim­its and smok­ers across the city’s bars lit up their last cig­a­rettes with much fan­fare.

At the down­town casino, em­ploy­ees handed out lol­lipops to smok­ing gam­blers at the stroke of mid­night and re­moved ash­trays from the casino’s gam­bling floors.

At a news con­fer­ence Wed­nes­day, anti-smok­ing ad­vo­cates and City Coun­cil mem­bers La­Toya Cantrell and Su­san Guidry, who led the push for the ban, cel­e­brated the start of the prohibition.

“April 22, 2015, will for­ever be writ­ten in the books of the his­tory of New Or­leans,” Cantrell said. “We to­gether stood tall to pro­tect our work­ers, to pro­tect our mu­si­cians, our cul­tural bear­ers, and to pro­tect all cit­i­zens of our great city.”

Guidry, how­ever, warned that the tobacco in­dus­try and casino lobby was con­tin­u­ing to fight the ban by seek­ing ex­emp­tions from state law­mak­ers in Ba­ton Rouge.

The ban was passed over the ob­jec­tions of bar own­ers and Har­rah’s New Or­leans. Last Fri­day, own­ers of the casino and dozens of other busi­nesses asked a state judge to stop the or­di­nance from tak­ing ef­fect. But Civil Dis­trict Court Judge Nak­isha Erv­inKnott de­nied the re­quest for a pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion and set a hear­ing on the mat­ter for May 21.

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