The ordinance improves on Louisiana Smoke-Free Air Act of 2007 and creates smoke-free indoor public spaces in New Orleans, known for its entertainment and convention business.
“I applaud the New Orleans City Council for standing up for the health of its residents. This is one of the strongest smoke-free laws in the nation,” said American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown. “It sends a clear message to other states and communities that it is time to protect all workers and the public from secondhand smoke — a major risk factor for heart disease. We urge Mayor Mitchell Landrieu to sign the ordinance into law as soon as possible.”
The law will go into effect 90 days after it is signed.
Some New Orleans restaurant and bar owners argued that a smoke-free law could cut into their business, but a 2013 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows bans do not hurt revenue. Many other studies show smoke free laws do not.
Businesses that do violate the ordinance, could have their operating permit revoked. Smokers could be fined between $100 for the first offense and a $500 fine for a third.
New Orleans has long been considered a meeting and tourist destination, and the city’s convention center is the sixth-largest in the nation. The AHA requires its convention host cities to have strong smoke-free workplace laws.
Smoke-free laws are a growing trend, as nearly 65 percent of the U.S. population lives in a community or state with a smoke-free law at a minimum requires restaurants and bars be smoke free, according to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation.
And there are at least 510 state-regulated gambling facilities that are required to be 100 percent smoke free indoors, according to the foundation.
Secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard for nonsmokers, and nonsmokers who have high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol have an even greater risk of developing heart diseases when they’re exposed to secondhand smoke.
“This law is a monumental triumph for the casino workforce. Far too many casino employees across the country are still exposed to secondhand smoke,” Brown said. “Thanks to this law, now all casino workers in New Orleans won’t have to choose between their health and a paycheck.”
An estimated 38,000 Americans die every year from heart disease caused by secondhand smoke, and even 30 minutes of exposure can trigger a heart attack. Studies also show that the risk of developing heart disease is about 25-30 percent higher among people exposed to environmental tobacco smoke at home or work.
The U.S. Surgeon General has declared that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
Fewer than 12 major U.S. cities now still allow smoking to occur in public places – primarily in bars.