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New Orleans smoking cessation program kicks off before ban takes effect in bars and casinos 

Bars and casinos to go smoke-free in April

  As New Orleans gets closer to its smoke-free deadline in April, the same campaign behind legislation that will ban smoking in bars and casinos has introduced a Mardi Gras-themed smoking cessation program.

  "Krewe de Quit" (www.krewedequit.org) is supported by Pfizer, the Smoking Cessation Trust, the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living, Ochsner Health System, the American Lung Association of the Southeast, the Cardiovascular Institute of the South, and the Louisiana Business Group on Health. The program is "based on the tradition of the Mardi Gras krewe" and "brings together the shared goals and friendships of the Mardi Gras krewe" to stop smoking. Nonsmokers also are encouraged to join to lend their support. The website offers a sign-up page to pledge to quit smoking and includes links to smoking cessation resources.

  "Quitting is lonely, hard work, but smokers who share their efforts with family and friends can get the support they need to quit and stay smoke free," Smoking Cessation Trust Management Services CEO Mike Rogers said in a statement. "The initiative also isn't about what smokers need to give up but rather what they can gain, in terms of a healthier life, by committing to quit."

  On Jan. 30, Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed the City Council ordinance prohibiting smoking (and vaping) in bars and casinos. Over the next few months, the city's health department will design a public awareness program and will work with businesses to help them transition to smoke-free workplaces.

  The measure is effective April 22, which also is the first week of the 2015 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Still on the table, however, are potential amendments from District C Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey, whose district covers the French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny. She withdrew a measure Feb. 5 that would have allowed smoking in designated areas in casinos, but another measure — one that redefines tobacco retailers to exempt them from the ban — could be considered as early as this month.

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