Health & Wellness

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Poll finds "overwhelming support" for smoking ban

Posted By on Tue, Jan 6, 2015 at 11:30 AM

Glen Bolger with Public Opinion Strategies presents results from an American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network poll finding New Orleanians' support of a smoking ban. - ALEX WOODWARD
  • Glen Bolger with Public Opinion Strategies presents results from an American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network poll finding New Orleanians' support of a smoking ban.

Tomorrow, the New Orleans City Council holds its first public meeting on a measure that could extend a smoking ban to bars and casinos. District B City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell's ordinance, as written, also bans all tobacco products and their use within 25 feet of all businesses. Cantrell and supporters, including many public health organizations and city officials, including Mayor Mitch Landrieu and health department director Charlotte Parent, say that an extended smoking ban is a public health measure meant to protect to all employees regardless of their workplace.

Opponents fear not only losing business by forcing smokers on the sidewalk, but creating a logistical problem in especially business-dense areas like the French Quarter, where many businesses are within 25 feet of one another. (District C Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey, whose district includes the French Quarter, already is trying to exempt cigar bars from the measure.)

But according to the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), most New Orleanians are in favor of extending the smoking ban. Eighty percent of registered voters polled last month agreed that "the rights of employees and customers to breathe clean air are more important than the rights of smokers and owners to allow smoking."

The American Cancer Society's advocacy group hired Public Opinion Strategies to conduct the poll, which surveyed 200 people Dec. 16-18. Among the findings, 56 percent of respondents "strongly favor" the proposed ordinance, while only 16 percent "strongly oppose." (Of those on the fence, 11 percent "somewhat favor" the ordinance and 16 percent "somewhat oppose.") The majority support also was spread among all five City Council districts.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ramsey moves to exempt some businesses from proposed smoking ordinance

Posted By on Tue, Dec 16, 2014 at 5:40 PM


Next month, the New Orleans City Council will begin to dissect a new ordinance that could drastically limit where smoking is allowed in New Orleans. As written, District B City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell’s ordinance bans smoking (and using any tobacco products) from within 25 feet of businesses — including bars and other smoke-friendly businesses. Opponents of the ordinance say it could cause a logistical nightmare, particularly in the business-dense French Quarter, where many doorways are within 25 feet of the one next door.

District C City Councilmember Nadine Ramsey — whose district covers the Vieux Carre — already is moving to exempt some businesses in the Quarter from Cantrell’s measure, with mixed success.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

First draft of New Orleans smoking ordinance bans all tobacco products from public areas

Posted By on Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 12:20 PM


New Orleans District B City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell caps off 2014's second Smoke-Free Week with the first look at a citywide smoking ordinance that aims to significantly limit where smoking is allowed, in the name of public and workplace health and safety.

The measure, which amends the city's already-existing smoking ordinances under its Smoke-Free Air Act, prohibits not only cigarettes but all tobacco products, including electronic smoking devices, hookahs and "natural or synthetic marijuana" and "other plant products" in bars, casinos, private clubs, correctional facilities and other "public" areas, including workplaces and school campuses, colleges and specialty schools. District A City Councilwoman Susan Guidry co-sponsored the measure.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

LaToya Cantrell to introduce smoke-free legislation Nov. 20

Posted By on Wed, Nov 12, 2014 at 1:00 PM

District B City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell plans to pass legislation banning smoking in bars, casinos and public spaces. - ALEX WOODWARD
  • District B City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell plans to pass legislation banning smoking in bars, casinos and public spaces.

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.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

New Orleans musicians and environmental groups host Ebola prevention benefit

Posted By on Wed, Nov 5, 2014 at 12:30 PM

A benefit at Hi-Ho Lounge raises funds for a Liberian organization that delivers sanitation supplies, like hand-washing stations, and food to communities impacted by ebola. - PHOTO COURTESY LBB
  • A benefit at Hi-Ho Lounge raises funds for a Liberian organization that delivers sanitation supplies, like hand-washing stations, and food to communities impacted by ebola.

New Orleans musicians headline a benefit Wednesday (Nov. 5) to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus and help address the health crisis impacting thousands of people in Africa. United Against Ebola — organized by the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and Africa Brass — will benefit the Natural Resources Research Initiative's (NRRI) Action Prevents Ebola campaign, which helps deliver health information, distribute sanitation supplies and food, and educate impacted communities.

Liberian environmental activist Abel Williams Cheayan is president of NRRI. This summer, the 25 year old worked with the Bucket Brigade as part of the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. Proceeds from the event will help pay for chloride bottles, hand-washing buckets and bags of rice to distribute among five Liberian communities and 100,000 people.

The event at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Hi-Ho Lounge (2239 St. Claude Ave.) features performances from Africa NOLA, Africa Brass, Mario Abney & the Abney Effect, BateBunda and others, with dance performances from Torrence Taylor, Lady Voodoo and Abeo. There also is a local art silent auction. Organizers ask people to wear red, white and blue. Admission is a suggested donation of $5-$20.

According to the World Health Organization as of Oct. 22, there have been nearly 10,000 cases of the disease with more than 4,000 deaths.

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

New UNO poll: Landrieu favored in primary; Cassidy favored in potential runoff

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 11:52 AM

Dr. Ed Chernevak, director of the UNO Survey Research Center. - COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS
  • Dr. Ed Chernevak, director of the UNO Survey Research Center.

On the eve of next Tuesday's election, the University of New Orleans (UNO) Survey Research Center (SRC) released a poll surveying Louisiana registered voters on three topics: the state of the state, health care policy and the Senate race. The biggest takeaway: Likely voters prefer Sen. Mary Landrieu in the primary, but if the Senate race should go to a runoff, Rep. Bill Cassidy is favored among those same voters.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Operation Save America is back in town

Posted By on Wed, Sep 3, 2014 at 5:48 PM


Operation Save America
, the faith-based pro-life organization that rattled New Orleans earlier this summer, was back in town today rallying outside of the Ashe Cultural Arts Center, where the team behind Planned Parenthood's scheduled South Claiborne facility held what the non-profit's women's health organization's communications manager Jewel Bush said was a private business meeting. 

The protestors held signs and spoke with passersby, handing out flyers arguing that abortion is a device Planned Parenthood and other providers of the service are intending for ethnic cleansing.  The fliers the protestors distributed renamed Planned Parenthood "Klan Parenthood."


“Today we are holding a job fair to provide local construction professionals an opportunity to be part of a project that will benefit this community," Reagan Carter, senior director of public affairs and education for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, said in a statement. "These groups are trying to bully these contractors and stop construction, but in the end they’re only helping us build even more support. We are committed to expanding access to health care in New Orleans. The bottom line is New Orleanians need more health care and jobs, not hate."

For more than a year, opponents of Planned Parenthood have protested to try and stop construction of the new Planned Parenthood Health center, which is scheduled to open by 2015. 

According to Planned Parenthood, New Orleans has some of the country’s highest rates of HIV transmission, sexually transmitted infections, and unintended pregnancy, and does not have enough health care providers to meet those needs. "Planned Parenthood’s new health center on South Claiborne Avenue will provide lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, STI testing and treatment, and HIV screening. Construction on the health center began several months ago, and it is slated to open in early 2015," said Bush.

In July, Mayor Mitch Landrieu issued a proclamation welcoming Operation Save America to New Orleans. A few days later, the mayor's administration said the proclamation was issued in error, but it didn't stop women's rights activists from rallying outside City Hall, asking for a formal apology from Landrieu. 

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

One New Orleanian's struggle with depression — and ways to get help

Posted By on Tue, Aug 12, 2014 at 1:06 PM


NOTE - I work for 
Gambit in the advertising department. This is a description of my struggle and some small advice to any of you that are having difficulties with life. This was my personal struggle and is certainly different than many others who have seen dark times. Should you feel compelled to reach out to me after reading this, please do.

With the news of Robin Williams' suicide and the news he had been suffering from severe depression shortly before his death, I felt the need to share my own experience with depression in hope it might help any of you that may be in a bad way.

My difficult times started after Hurricane Katrina and the federal floods in August 2005. I moved almost 10 times in four months. I only saw my then-wife on weekends from September to December 2005. My family in St. Bernard Parish lost everything. My brother had damage to his place. Everything was a wreck physically and so was I — mentally. I had all the signs of a severely depressed person: feelings of worthlessness and guilt every single day, couldn't sleep at all, no interest in things that I once enjoyed, and recurring thoughts of death — particularly my own due to suicide. 

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Friday, August 1, 2014

Finn McCool's going smoke-free starting Labor Day

Posted By on Fri, Aug 1, 2014 at 5:42 PM

Popular Mid-City watering hole Finn McCool's Irish Pub announced on Facebook this morning that the bar will be smoke-free beginning Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 1. The bar has experimented with smoke-free days since 2011, when its smoke-free "social experiment" drew mixed opinions from its patrons, following failed attempts by legislators in Baton Rouge to ban smoking in bars statewide. Owners Stephen and Pauline Patterson said the decision rested with their customers:

The Finns family is a brilliant one! So having taken into account all the feedback you have given us over the past 12 years we believe this is the best decision moving forward. After participating in several social experiments we have discovered another thing we love about our customers: they are open and fair-minded and willing to accept this new policy. Especially the smokers!

And it might not be alone. While there's been a trend of longtime bars turning on the no smoking sign — including Winston's Pub and The Maple Leaf this year — District B New Orleans City Council member LaToya Cantrell announced that she plans to introduce legislation this November that will ban smoking in bars and public buildings, a plan that already has drawn comments from both sides of the argument, as well as support from several councilmembers and Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

"Sober in New Orleans": A reader's perspective

Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 10:47 AM

Among the responses we got to this week's cover story, "Sober in New Orleans," was this one. The author asked that we not use his name. — Ed.


I came to New Orleans for oblivion and found god. I don’t mean the god you hear when I say god. I mean something that is in everything, that exists between us, and that I could only find through drugs and alcohol before I got sober. Don’t get me wrong: running barefoot through the French Quarter and challenging anyone who will take me on to barstool spinning contests at Johnny White’s because I had to leave Jazz Fest because Bonnie Raitt was controlling the weather and her brothers were about to make it rain is a blast. So were the times I wrestled the guy who had just given me cocaine in the bathroom of The John at six in the morning while wearing my stained $12 seersucker suit from Bloomin' Deals. And who doesn’t love to drive up and down Dauphine Street at ten miles an hour, bumping into cars parked too close together, while screaming the lyrics of “Waltzing Mathilda” along with Tom Waits.

Waking up with bruises and bumps is a small price to pay for a night or a week or a month or five years of forgetting everything in New Orleans.

I didn’t stop drinking because of drinking. I loved to drink. It gave me life. It gave me joie de vivre. I turned into a madman before and after every full moon. And there were so many people to drink with. The Quarter is filled with wonderful souls who will happily stand beside me at breakfast time outside Lounge Lizards and shout to the bourgeoisie that You’re all slaves!.

What I learned is that I didn’t have a problem with drinking. I was damn good at drinking — save for those times I may have broken pint glasses after slamming down a drink or accidentally kissed your girlfriend. Or the time I lost the motorcycle I bought with my FEMA money. Not lost like those many times I found it days later in front of some dive bar. Lost like gone. What I didn’t know how to do was live without drinking, and I got a glimpse of this while evacuating for Hurricane Katrina with people I knew only from drinking. I got to see their fears, their worries, and who they were as people. Not the actors on barstools. I saw that many of them were just as afraid as me. I don’t mean of the storm or the repercussions. I mean of life. You can’t tell anybody this while you’re sitting on a barstool. Don’t get me wrong — for some it is just a happy-go-lucky-bender-night or a-stage-I’m-going-through-that-will-change-when-I-have-a-kid-or-get-the-right-job drunk. The beautiful thing about New Orleans is that either way nobody will question you. And for some this is just fine, but for an alcoholic like me, using medicine to mask the pain, it only creates more delusion.

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