Smoke-Free New Orleans Parish-Wide Ordinance
On January 22, 2015, the New Orleans City Council unanimously passed an ordinance to protect all bar and gaming workers from secondhand smoke exposure. With this historic ruling, New Orleans became the largest city in Louisiana to unanimously pass a comprehensive, smoke-free ordinance.
The ordinance, championed by Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell and co-sponsored by Councilwoman Susan Guidry, ensures that all employees, including bartenders, gaming facility employees, and entertainers at the more than 500 bars and 2 casinos in the city of New Orleans are protected from the dangerous health effects of secondhand smoke. The smoke-free ordinance restricts smoking (including e-cigarette use) inside buildings, within 25 feet of entrances and
most outdoor recreation areas.
The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living (TFL) started working in 2007 to build a coalition of traditional public health and non-traditional stakeholders who were in favor of a smoke-free New Orleans. These stakeholders began community outreach in neighborhoods throughout New Orleans, where the health infrastructure was struggling to rejuvenate after Hurricane Katrina. Community members, community clinics and other parts of the health system started supporting the vision of a healthier New Orleans through smoke-free air and other initiatives.
Public health groups also worked with bar owners to hold smoke-free bar nights, happy hours and other small events to get bar owners and musicians on board. Ultimately, over 100 local musicians came out in support of the smoke-free ordinance, providing compelling testimony about their desire to perform in smoke-free music venues and the friends they’ve had affected by secondhand smoke. To further the case for smoke-free air, stakeholders also performed air quality monitoring studies in bars and casinos to measure the secondhand smoke exposure of both workers and patrons. In addition, surveys were conducted at major events like The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival to learn if tourists would continue to visit New Orleans if they couldn’t smoke in bars and casinos—the results were overwhelmingly positive.
After the ordinance was passed and signed into law, an aggressive outreach campaign was carried out to ensure it could be effectively enforced as soon as it went into effect—90 days after its passage. Toolkits were printed for different kinds of businesses (bars, restaurants, hotels, casinos, etc.). Smoke-free napkins were printed and distributed to local bars. Additional outreach efforts were employed in the media and at festivals. After the law went into effect, bar and casino revenue around the city of New Orleans ultimately increased. Now the 5,000 workers in the hospitality industry and millions of New Orleans residents and visitors can enjoy smoke-free spaces.