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.