Proposal to amend smoking ban would scrap fines - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Proposal to amend smoking ban would scrap fines

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

Just two weeks after an ordinance passed banning smokers from lighting up in nearly any business, Councilman Jason Williams wants to prevent patrons from being fined.

“The smoking ban is supposed to help individuals, so the last thing we want to do is start penalizing people in an effort to help them,” says Williams.

His proposal is to prevent individuals from being punished if they're caught smoking in a bar or casino. Instead, the establishment would be cited.

“We're not trying to create a new profiling or pretexts stops from police officers on certain individuals. This is not adding to the list of things that police have to deal with right now. This is to make clean air inside of an establishment,” says Williams.

“We would love for a first warning to happen and the business owner can give that warning, but then fines should start,” says Jennifer Cofer.

Supporters of the ban believe both parties should be held responsible.

“We've seen in places where people do this on purpose and intentionally. Unless there's some type of punishment for people, they'll continue to defy the business,” says Cofer.

Dawn Kesslering is a bartender on Bourbon Street. She believes the ban takes the freedom of choice away from smokers.

“If I want to work in a non-smoking bar to protect myself and my health, I will do that. I don't need a law to tell me to do that,” says Kesslering.

Even though some bartenders say they're against the ban altogether, some do believe it should be up to the bar to make sure no one is smoking inside.

“I can't really be against that too much. I do think it's the bar's responsibility,” says Kesslering.

Williams says the city's department of health will be responsible for handing out citations, but he believes the businesses will likely have to police themselves.

“The individual is certainly in the bar to drink. The bartender will have to explain, look man, you are about to make me lose my tips. You're about to cost my boss a huge fine. You've got to step out,” says Williams.

The smoking ban will go into effect April 22. A citation can range from $100-$500.

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