In July, District B City councilwoman LaToya Cantrel
l told Gambit
she intended to introduce citywide smoke-free legislation this fall banning smoking in bars
. Her measure followed statewide legislation, effective this August, that prohibits smoking on state college campuses, which many private universities followed — all HBCUs in New Orleans are smoke- and tobacco-free. Tulane University also has a tobacco-free campus policy, and Loyola University plans to introduce its plan next year.
In New Orleans City Council’s Nov. 6 meeting, Cantrell welcomed representatives from Delgado Community College and Dillard and Tulane universities, recognizing their respective student government associations for ensuring tobacco-free campuses. Cantrell also said her citywide plan is coming soon.
“It’s something we’re looking to put forth in legislation soon,” she said. “The support has been phenomenal, and to know we have support of young adults and colleges is so vital.”
The presentation previews another Smoke-Free Week (dubbed Smoke-Free Week 2.0, following this summer's first) in conjunction with the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) annual conference. According to a release, "Smoke-Free Week is a health initiative designed to raise awareness on the risks that secondhand smoke exposure poses, particularly to New Orleans bar employees, patrons, and entertainers."
The week begins with a press conference at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 12 at City Hall, where Cantrell is expected to announce plans for her citywide smoke-free ordinance, which she plans to introduce this month. There also will be a New Orleans Pelicans game watch party at Barcadia (601 Tchoupitoulas St.) from 6:30 to 10 p.m. At noon Monday, Nov. 17, the event converges with the APHA for a "Smoke-Free Secondline" led by the Hot 8 Brass Band on Convention Center Boulevard at Julia Street.
Cantrell’s measure received early support in July from Mayor Mitch Landrieu and councilmembers Susan Guidry and James Gray
. At-large councilman Jason Williams
“those decisions should be left to the individual business owner.” On Nov. 6, at-large council member Stacy Head
thanked Cantrell “for continuing to bring this discussion to the forefront.” Head also suggested petitioning Louisiana Legislature to change legislation governing cigarette taxes so New Orleans can set its own taxes “so we can pay for needed services.” (Louisiana has one of the lowest in the U.S. “We don’t want to be No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 on that list,” she said.)
“If people choose to kill themselves, (we) can tax that,” she said.
"The support has been phenomenal, and to know we have support of young adults and colleges is so vital." — LaToya Cantrell
Guidry said she is “living proof that when you make a building smoke-free, you push people toward going smoke free,” adding that she was forced to smoke outside when law offices where she worked went smoke-free. She used a nicotine patch to help quit smoking. “I don’t want to die, I don’t want to smell like this,” she said, adding her support for a citywide policy. “I know people who smoke, and I get it, and I know how furious you are, but it’s so worth it.”
“You will die if you smoke, and you’ll die early if you smoke,” Gray said. “We need to get the message out.”
Cantrell also added that the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, and the National Institute of Public Health “will not return to New Orleans for a convention until New Orleans is smoke-free."
In the release, musician Irvin Mayfield
(who, along with John Boutte and several others, has supported smoke-free efforts through the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living), said, "if the air I’m using to play my trumpet is filled with smoke, it’s impossible to perform at a level I can be proud of. I work with 18 other incredible musicians with the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, many of whom simply can’t play — because of health reasons — if a venue allows smoking. No one should be kept from their livelihood because their office is filled with cigarette smoke."