Smokers light up as many as possible before ban - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Smokers light up as many as possible before ban

Workers will start to enforce the ban heavily in June. (FOX 8 photo) Workers will start to enforce the ban heavily in June. (FOX 8 photo)
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -

The burning reality of New Orleans' smoking ban was met with mixed reviews.

The city ordinance is in effect after 12 a.m. Wednesday, and it prohibits anyone from smoking inside of bars and casinos in Orleans Parish.

But before the clock struck midnight, patrons at the uptown bar Kingpin struck match after match lighting up those last few cigarettes.

"It's our first and last annual smoking party," the bar's owner said over the crowd.

The party included a smoking ring competition and ended with people leaving with the bar's ashtrays and nicotine gum. 

Other business owners embraced for what it would mean for their bottom line.

"I'll probably stand to gain some. I don't think we'll lose much," Redd's Bar owner Eric Orlando said. "My concern is really more length of stay, how long smokers are going to stay. You know a guy having four beers as opposed to maybe now only having two and moving on."

While Orleans is rolling out as a smoke free parish, Jefferson Parish bar owners foresee smokers blazing a trail to them.

"People are going to be leaving from there to find a place that they can actual have a beer or drink and relax and have a cigarette," Recovery Room manager Denise Doucet said. "Hey, we welcome it. Tell them to come on."

But some believe bar patrons have more loyalty than that, especially when people can still smoke outside.

"People who are going to come here are going to come here regardless of whether or not they have to go outside and smoke. They're not going to drive across parish lines just to go have a cigarette in a bar," Bruno's Bar manager Julia McDonald said.

"Down the line we expect some time in June to start working on what the enforcement mechanism are going to be in place," Health Department's Charlotte Parent said.

The agency is helping businesses come into compliance and workers will start to enforce the ban heavily in June.

Anyone wanting to submit a complaint can do so by printing out a paper from nola.gov or calling 311.

Health department workers will visit the establishment after the agency receives two complaints, Parent said.

"We are giving people time to understand what this means and how to be in compliance and then eventually to move to the roll that we need to have and that is the enforcement," Parent said.

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