Harrah's, Pat O'Brien's and others sue city over smoking ban

Harrah's, Pat O'Brien's and others sue city over smoking ban

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Less than a week before New Orleans is set to go smoke free, business leaders sued the city to try and stop the smoking ban from going into affect.

Harrah's, Pat O'Brien's, Maspero's, Rick's Cabaret and Cat's Meow are among the 50 businesses that filed a lawsuit Friday.

The suit was met with opposition right away when a judge denied the group's temporary restraining order that would have prevented the city from enforcing the ban while both parties plead their case in court.

The denial means the city can go ahead as scheduled and make smoking inside illegal on Wednesday.

Business leaders say city officials have rushed to judgment and have not fully thought about the economic impact the smoking ban will bring.

Studies from other cities that have passed similar laws as New Orleans' smoking ban show a decrease of 15-20 percent in the first year, according to French Quarter Business League President Alex Fein.

"Although it is a very important thing for them to pass, you have to consider all sides of the issue and any sort of economic impact on the city especially the time right now when the city is hurting for money as money as much as it is. It may not be the best time to do it," Fein said.

City officials have said they plan to go ahead with the ban and have Department of Health workers enforce it Wednesday.

But business leaders say now is not the time for them to lose money when they are about to start putting up their own money to pay for NOPD security details in the French Quarter.

"Given the fact that the city is in such an economic pinch at the moment and given the fact that we putting up our own money to fund details for bourbon street we just feel that now is not the right time and they need to figure out how they would replace that lost revenue however they would do that," Fein said.

All of the businesses involved in the suit will abide by the law when it goes into affect but business owners are hopeful city officials will delay the ban, Fein said.

A hearing date for the lawsuit has yet to be set.

Last week, city officials refused a proposal by Harrah's to build a smoking section in the casino separate from those who were not smoking.

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