Monday, May 20, 2024

Shreveport City Council questions casino smoking ban ahead of scheduled implementation

by BIZ Magazine

Angel Albring | BIZ. Magazine

Shreveport’s City Council plans to consider changes to the city’s smoking ban that is set to go into effect in August that would exclude some businesses from the new law.

Ordinance 51 of 2020 prohibits smoking of any kind in any park or playground, as well as bars and casinos. The smoke-free ordinance first appeared on the city council agenda during the May 26, 2020 meeting, but it excluded casinos. That was amended during the council meeting in June 2020 to include casinos and passed on a 4-3 vote.

The final, comprehensive ordinance passed by a vote of 5-2. Casinos and bars originally had 60 days to implement the changes. Then, the council voted in July 2020 to grant a one-year delay on the smoking ban for casinos.

The delay was approved due to concerns about how implementation of the ban might affect local businesses and employment, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

District B Councilman James Flurry, who originally supported the ban, still has those concerns, and they prompted him to push for either a full repeal or some amendments to the law.

“I feel like there will be some maneuvering trying to amend it to see if we can get something where everyone is satisfied. I am concerned that people might lose their job,” Councilman Flurry said during the council’s June 22 meeting. 

Flurry’s proposed amendments would exempt any retail tobacco business, cigar or hookah bars and casinos from the city’s smoking ban.

The American Heart Association issued a press release urging the city council to stay strong on its smoke-free policy implementation.

“This last-minute attempt to repeal the smoke-free policy not only sets the city of Shreveport back, but it will specifically affect the 75 percent of Black or African Americans working in the hospitality industry in the city,” said Ashley Hebert, Government Relations Regional Director for the American Heart Association. “Bar and casino patrons and employees have waited on these life-saving health protections far too long. Let’s not delay protecting their health any longer. We urge the Shreveport City Council and Mayor Adrian Perkins to stand strong in support of a healthy Shreveport.”

Heart disease and stroke are the numbers one and number four killers, respectively, of Louisianans, claiming more than 14,000 lives in the state each year, according to the release.

The council is expected to vote on the proposed amendment on July 13.

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