NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The New Orleans City Council voted unanimously to ban smoking in city bars and casinos in front of a packed council chamber.
Thursday's meeting clearly demonstrated there is a lot of public interest and public comments were taken. Council meetings leading up to this vote have been standing room only.
Councilwoman Latoya Cantrell says it is time for the city to outlaw smoking, including e-cigarettes, inside bars and casinos and in all hotel rooms. Smoking will be allowed in outdoors areas of those venues.
Cantrell has softened her proposal a bit in other ways. The council passed some amendments almost immediately.
The distance smokers must be from establishments changes from 25 feet to just five feet except for entrances of public property. Still, some businesses say the ban will drive customers away.
Some local musicians have said the smoke in lounges is not only hurting their performance, but also their health.
The council also amended the ordinance to remove NOPD officers as enforcers of the smoke free law.
Councilman James Gray raised concerns about a part of the ordinance that would force violators who can't pay the fines to do community service. He said that would overburden the poor who need to work. But Councilwoman Susan Guidry said that provision is already in city law relating to litter violations.
If the ban passes, businesses will have 90 days to comply.