New Orleans City Council to host town hall meeting on smoking ban



Following a contentious public hearing on District B City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell's proposed ban on smoking in bars and casinos, Cantrell and District A City Councilwoman Susan Guidry will host a town hall meeting on the ordinance at 5 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 14.

The meeting in City Council chambers (at City Hall, 1300 Perdido St.) will "allow for the Council to gain additional input from those who were unable to attend the previous community hearing," Cantrell said in a statement.

"This meeting will provide an opportunity for continued public comment regarding the proposed smoke-free ordinance currently under consideration," Guidry added in a statement. "I join Councilmember Cantrell in welcoming concerned citizens from all perspectives on this issue to attend the Town Hall and make their voices heard."

Guidry has been added as a co-author to the ordinance, which Cantrell first introduced in November. The ordinance aims to prohibit smoking in bars, casinos and most public areas, and at least 5 feet from entrances to businesses, including bars. As written, the ordinance also prohibits the use of any tobacco product where smoking is banned — including electronic cigarettes.

At this week's City Council Community Development Committee meeting, a crowd — many in support of and opposed to the ordinance — packed the council chambers. Proponents argued that the ban (which also is supported by Mayor Mitch Landrieu and health department director Charlotte Parent) is a much-needed public health measure to protect bar and casino employees as well as musicians performing in smoky clubs. Opponents fear economic losses to businesses, and many feel the ban infringes on the rights of business owners and smokers. Many e-cig users also argue the ban unfairly targets their use of a product they feel is a smoking cessation tool that has not yet been proven by government health agencies as comparable to cigarette smoking.

The ordinance is scheduled to appear on the City Council's Jan. 22 agenda.

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