New Orleans Clears the Air, Becomes a Leader in Public Health Advocacy with New Smoke-Free Ordinance
On April 22, 2015, New Orleans exhibited its commitment to public safety and protecting the public’s health by implementing a historic smoke-free ordinance that protects all of the city’s residents, employees, entertainers and visitors.
The unanimous passage of this ordinance, led by Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell and Councilwoman Susan Guidry, has thrust New Orleans into the national spotlight as a leader in public health advocacy. Today, New Orleans joins eight Louisiana communities and more than 1,200 municipalities nationwide that have gone smoke-free. Additionally, the New Orleans ordinance has created a landslide effect across the state as other cities have taken notice and are considering similar ordinances.
In recognition of the historic nature of this ordinance passage, Healthier Air For All unveiled its monumental celebration piece today. The 50 foot wide by 128 foot tall “Inhale, Exhale, Repeat Safely” banner promotes New Orleans in a big way as a leader in public health advocacy and creates awareness of the city’s new smoke-free status. The promotion’s epic size further reiterates the fact that this ordinance is a huge step for the city and its leaders. The slogan echoes the health and public safety benefits the ordinance brings to our community, as well as reminds all who see it that we need not endure harm to live the New Orleans “lifestyle.”
“Over the next month, this monumental piece will hopefully spark conversation and interest, but also serve as a reminder of the important steps our City leaders took for the health of us ALL,” said Michael Johnson, Ph.D., Director of the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living. “Far too many Louisianans have suffered from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. This ordinance is a chance to improve everyone’s quality of life and have New Orleans serve as an exemplar to other cities interested in taking a stand for its residents’ health.”
“As the great Sam Cooke once sang, it’s been a long, long time coming, but I know a change is gonna come,” said Councilmember LaToya Cantrell. “Many thanks to our Mayor and my fellow Councilmembers for signing and passing the smoke-free New Orleans legislation. Today, we stand proud and strong for the City of New Orleans and its hard working citizens by ensuring a smoke-free working environment for all."
“Today, New Orleans is one step closer to being a healthier city to live, work and play,” said Charlotte Parent, Director of the New Orleans Health Department. "As the lead agency implementing the smoke-free ordinance, the New Orleans Health Department is committed to educating the people of New Orleans about this important public health issue.”
“The Council’s unanimous approval of the Smoke-Free ordinance reflects our commitment to protecting our most valuable resource – our workers,” said Councilmember Susan Guidry. “This marks a major step in ensuring a healthier environment for those who serve as the face of our city and a more pleasant atmosphere for our citizens and visitors alike. I am proud to have co-sponsored this legislation and look forward to continuing to rebuild a stronger, more sustainable, and healthier New Orleans.”
“Today is the first day toward a future with less cancer, less heart disease and less respiratory illness in New Orleans,” said Robert Morris, Managing Director, Southern Region, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “This public health victory should be an example for elected officials in other municipalities and states with casinos and gaming facilities who haven’t yet taken action to protect everyone’s right to breathe smoke-free air.”
Tobacco kills ore than 7, 200 Louisianans every year and costs Louisiana almost $1.9 billion annually in health care. The evidence on secondhand smoke’s toll on public health is clear. Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, hundreds of them are toxic and at least 69 cause cancer. 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.