New Orleans Health Department director Charlotte Parent
added her support to a measure to prohibit smoking in bars, casinos and public spaces in New Orleans. The measure — from New Orleans District B councilwoman LaToya Cantrell
, who told Gambit about her plan in July
and has the support of Mayor Mitch Landrieu
and several City Council members — will be introduced in the City Council on first reading Nov. 20. It will then likely head to the council's Community Development Committee, where it will have its first public discussion. Following approval at that committee, it will head to the full council for a vote, likely before the end of the year.
"We're moving forward as a city," Cantrell said on the steps of New Orleans City Hall this morning. "(This legislation) is is not about attacking someone who wishes to smoke. This is about protecting our workforce, protecting our residents, who wish to live in smoke-free environments, and to make sure the disparities that exist in our city are eliminated."
The announcement kicks off 2014's second Smoke-Free Week
, featuring several events to encourage people to quit smoking.
Cantrell cited several musicians who are supporting the measure, including John Boutte, Irvin Mayfield, Kermit Ruffins, Paul Sanchez and Trombone Shorty. Bonerama's Craig Klein
, who said banning smoking in venues is "incredibly dear" to New Orleans musicians, also supports the measure.
"To play in a club that is full of smoke, it's hard to play," he said. "Now is the time to try to pass this smoke-free environment. It's so much easier to play in a club without the smoke. It's a challenge to play as a musician. ... It's a no-brainer in New Orleans. You can walk outside and have a drink with your cigarette. It's so simple. ... It's nothing personal with smokers. You want to smoke a cigarette, that's fine. It's personal if you want to smoke a cigarette in front of me while I'm playing my instrument."
with the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living said the measure protects people working in bars and clubs and casinos.
"All workers deserve a safe, healthy, smoke-free workplace," said Cynthia Hallett
with the national nonsmoking group Americans for Nonsmokers Rights Foundation. "We don't want to leave any worker behind."
"This is one way New Orleans is taking the lead and becoming not only a healthier city, but one that provides clinical research and health care services at all levels," Cantrell said. "We can't take the lead if we're allowing our people to stand by the wayside and die at rates that are four times the national average.
"We're also a city in which our tourism industry pretty much makes our city function. It is the No. 1 industry in our city. It's the people who work in the industry everyday that make it happen that we also have to protect."