The Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) was conducting sting operations as early as May 2012 using underage "operatives" to purchase tobacco products from bars (the operative asks bar staff where the cigarette machines are, purchases cigarettes and leaves the bar).
The stings are part of a three-year, federally funded program. In August, Dos Jefes Uptown Cigar Bar and Wit's Inn landed on the city's Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) docket for allegedly allowing underage operatives inside to purchase cigarettes. In September, Cooter Brown's and Snake and Jake's Christmas Club Lounge each agreed to pay $200 to settle similar charges.
At the Oct. 16 ABC meeting, a host of popular bars including Aunt Tiki's, Mango Mango, Lost Love Lounge and Siberia each agreed to pay $200 for charges including allowing minors into the bar, selling tobacco products to minors, and "maintaining or creating a public nuisance."
At the August ABC meeting, ABC vice-chair Nyka Scott said, "I'm not sure this level of conduct amounts to nuisance." City attorney Dan McNamara said that because a minor entered the bar before his ID was checked, it was in "clear violation of the law."
In July, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced a partnership between the ATC, the city and NOPD to "investigate nuisance bars that serve as breeding grounds for violence and crime," Landrieu said in a press release. "Reducing violent crime and murder and making New Orleans safe has been and will continue to be the most important issue facing this city and its future, and this partnership with the ATC will help us to do this."
The effort merged with Landrieu's "Nola For Life" anti-crime campaign. — Alex Woodward