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New Orleans’ bar workers will help enforce the new smoking ban

23rd February 2015   ·   0 Comments

By Susan Buchanan
Contributing Writer

Bartenders will have more to payday loans in your account in 15 mins do than pour beer and keep track of tabs when a smoking ban for taverns and casinos, passed in late January by the City Council, becomes effective on April 22. “Bar and casino workers will be directly involved in the law’s enforcement,” spokesman David Winkler-Schmit of Council­member LaToya Cantrell’s office said last week. Cantrell and Councilmember Susan Guidry cosponsored the bill aimed at eliminating secondhand smoke and the hazards it poses for workers and patrons. Penalties for violations will start out fairly small but can quickly grow for noncompliance, according to City Hall.

“People who own, manage, operate or control the use of a bar or casino will be subject to penalty if the law isn’t enforced,” Winkler-Schmit said. ”Bar owners will likely instruct their employees to enforce the law by requesting that smokers put out cigarettes so the owners and managers aren’t fined.” Establishments with repeat violations could lose their liquor licenses.

Musicians local president Deacon John Moore was a strong advocate for the smoking ban. Courtesy of the New Orleans City Council

Musicians local president Deacon John Moore was a strong advocate for
the smoking ban.
Courtesy of the New Orleans City Council

An amendment by Councilman Jason Williams, approved by the council on Jan. 22 and the same day that the broader ordinance passed, removed the New Orleans Police Department or NOPD from enforcement responsibilities. At a Jan. 21 press conference at the Eighth District Police Station on Royal St., Williams said that given its manpower shortage, the NOPD needs to focus on public safety and crime prevention, not minor offenses. He introduced the amendment in part to reduce “negative interactions between citizens and the police,” he said. Williams was worried that adding more petty offenses to those enforced by the NOPD now would create extra work personal loans bad credit fayetteville nc and additional chances for discriminatory policing and racial profiling. On balance, Williams likes the no-smoking ordinance and has praised Councilmember Cantrell for bringing it to the City Council.

The New Orleans Health Department will enforce the ban, Bradley Howard, spokesman for Mayor Mitch Landrieu, said last week. “The statute requires a public awareness campaign before enforcement, which the city is planning,” Howard said. “When enforcement begins, individuals can report noncompliance by contacting the city’s 311 phone service.” That’s a non-emergency, assistance number.

Penalties for business owners, managers and employers include a fine of up to $100 for the first violation; up to $200 for the second infraction in a 12-month period; and up to $500 for the third and any subsequent violations in a 12-month span, Howard said. Each day that a violation continues will be a separate offense. Moreover, “violations may result in the suspension or revocation of any permit or license issued for the premises on which it occurred,” he said.

As for individuals, they’ll be fined up to $50 for each violation or will be asked to do community service. The City Council has expressed an interest in amending the penalties for individuals, however, Howard said, without explaining how they might be changed.

Local musicians have pushed to end smoking where they play. “John Boutte, Paul Sanchez, musicians local president Deacon John Moore and Craig Klein have been quarterbacks for this ban for almost three years,” Bethany Ewald Bultman, president of the New Orleans Musicians Assistance Foundation, said. Deacon John Moore is head of the American Federation of Musicians Local 174-496 in the city.

Bultman called the ban a huge victory. “You can come top SD CA cash advance home at night and hang your smoke-filled clothes out on the line but you can’t do that with your lungs,” she said. “Today the Maple Leaf Bar on Oak St. went smoke free in honor of Lent,” she said on Ash Wednesday. Over sixty of the city’s music venues, including a number of bars, already designate themselves as non-smoking. Some of them, including the Maple Leaf, have outdoor patios where patrons can light up.

Casino owners and many local bar owners oppose the new ban, and e-cigarette proponents fought to exempt usage of that tobacco-free item. But on January 22, the day of the vote on the council’s ordinance, results of a study by Portland State University in Oregon were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. They indicated that vapor from e-cigarettes can contain more cancer-causing formaldehyde than regular cigarettes. E-smokes won’t be allowed in New Orleans bars and casinos.

Looking ahead, Bultman doubts the ban will be that difficult to endure or enforce. “Los Angeles and New York City adjusted,” she said. After California banned smoking in bars in1998, New York and at least two dozen other states followed. Bars in New Orleans may even get some new business, Bultman said. “People like me will go out to hear music when the smoke is gone,” she said.

And Crescent City establishments have something that most places with smoking bans don’t. Since bar tops here are piled with plastic go-cups, patrons heading outside for a smoke will be able to bring their drinks along.

This article originally published in the February 23, 2015 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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