The implementation of a comprehensive smoke-free air ordinance to protect all employees in the East Baton Rouge workforce has come to fruition. The ordinance, co-authored by seven Metro Council members, was passed on August 8, 2017 and was recently placed into implementation.
Those who were left behind in the 2007 Smoke-Free Louisiana policy, including bartenders and bar employees, gaming facility employees, entertainers, and vendors, will now be guaranteed the right to breathe clean air. The ordinance declares that all workplaces – including bars and gaming establishments – be completely smoke-free as of June 1, 2018.
“Today is a step forward and a change for the health outcomes in Louisiana due to the harmful realities of secondhand smoke,” said Raegan Carter, spokesperson for the Smoke-Free EBR coalition and Region 2 Manager for the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living (TFL), during a celabration of the ordinance implementation. “We are grateful to the Metro Council for listening to the voices of their constituents and protecting those who struggle between having to choose between their health and a paycheck.”
Smoking kills more than 7,200 Louisianans and costs Louisiana taxpayers $1.89 billion in healthcare expenses every year. The evidence on secondhand smoke’s toll on public health is clear—secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals. Hundreds of them are toxic and at least 70 cause cancer. In addition, the Surgeon General has found that secondhand smoke causes heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults, as well as causing respiratory problems, sudden infant death syndrome, and low birth weight in infants and children.
“We are tremendously grateful to the leadership of East Baton Rouge Parish who took action to protect the health of the community,” says Ashley Hebert, government relations director for the American Heart Association in Louisiana. “We are optimistic that we will one day soon see a policy that protects the workforce in the entire state of Louisiana.”
East Baton Rouge Parish follows other cities in Louisiana who have closed the gap in the 2007 Louisiana Smoke-Free Air Act. Those cities include Alexandria, Woodworth, Monroe, Cheneyville, New Orleans, Lafayette, and Hammond.
The Smoke-free EBR Coalition comprises the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation, and numerous other local and national organizations. For more information, visit SmokefreeEBR.org.