New Orleans City Council Delivers Historic Victory for Smoke-Free Air

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Jan. 22 2015

WASHINGTON, DC – The New Orleans City Council today delivered a truly historic victory for health by unanimously approving a citywide ordinance that makes all workplaces and public places smoke-free, including bars and casinos. The new law will protect the right of all New Orleans residents, workers and visitors to breathe clean air, free from the serious health hazards of secondhand smoke. Residents and tourists alike will now be able to enjoy all that the Big Easy has to offer while enjoying clean air. And employees in bars, music venues, casinos and other workplaces won't be forced to breathe secondhand smoke in order to earn a paycheck.

Today’s victory in one of the world’s greatest tourism and convention capitals adds to the growing momentum across the country and around the world to protect everyone's right to breathe clean, smoke-free air. The Council’s action adds New Orleans to the ever-growing list of countries, states and cities with a comprehensive smoke-free law.

In the U.S., 24 states, Washington, DC, and hundreds of cities currently have smoke-free laws that apply to all workplaces, restaurants and bars, protecting about half the U.S. population. New Orleans has set a particularly important example for states and cities in the South, which have lagged behind the rest of the nation in providing this important protection for health. It’s time for every state and community to go smoke-free.

We applaud Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, Councilwoman Susan Guidry and their colleagues for their leadership and perseverance in working to combat the harms of secondhand smoke. Everyone deserves the right to breathe clean air, and the council’s action today will help make that a reality in the great city of New Orleans.

Polling shows that two-thirds of New Orleans voters favor an ordinance that extends the smoke-free law to all workplaces, including bars and casinos. Additionally, 80 percent of voters said the rights of employees and customers to breathe clean air are more important than the rights of smokers and owners to allow smoking.

Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and at least 69 that cause cancer. The U.S. Surgeon General found that secondhand smoke is a proven cause of lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, serious respiratory illnesses, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The Surgeon General also found that secondhand smoke is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in the United States each year, there is no safe level of exposure, and only smoke-free laws provide effective protection. The evidence is also clear that smoke-free laws protect health without harming business.

Although Louisiana state law has made most workplaces and restaurants smoke-free since 2007, residents and visitors currently can smoke in casinos and some bars.

 

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