Ponchatoula City Council bans smoking in public spaces

In Ponchatoula, if you want to light up, you’ll have to step out.

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - In Ponchatoula, if you want to light up, you’ll have to step out. The City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Monday (Feb. 11) that would ban smoking in all public places.

"Sooner or later you're not going to be able to smoke anywhere," said Addie Davis.

Davis works at Millside Seafood Restaurant, where smoking indoors has been banned for close to a decade.

“I mean, we did have probably like a handful that stopped coming in here because there’s no more smoking,” Davis said. “The rest of us, we go out on picnic tables. It’s no big deal.”

Davis didn’t mind the ban at work because she could easily step out and smoke. But last week, she said she quit smoking cigarettes.

“I left work and just went and got me a vape and haven’t picked it up since,” Davis said.

When the ordinance takes effect in May, Davis and others won’t be allowed to vape indoors, either.

“I think it’s a form of smoke as well,” said Ponchatoula Mayor Robert Zabbia, saying the ordinance mirrors the one in Hammond. “We understand that we are probably the 18th city in Louisiana to make that adoption.”

Zabbia said over the last few months, city officials have looked at how things work in Hammond. They decided to move forward with their own ban when residents started complaining.

“People are susceptible to second-hand smoking.” Zabbia said. “It’s been proven that it’s harmful, and I think the council, I salute the council for taking the approach and taking a stand.”

It’s a stand some smokers like Nichole Keys support.

“It’ll probably be a help for me. Maybe I’ll stop smoking and it’ll be a help, you know? The less you smoke,” Keys said.

People who don’t comply with the ban will be charged $50 for the first violation. For businesses, on their first violation, they’ll be given a $100 fine and $200 for the second. If business owners don’t comply for a third time, they could lose their permit or license.

In general, Addie Davis said she doesn’t mind the ban, but she worries about what’s next.

“It starts there, and then it continues onto, ‘Well you can’t smoke here,’” Davis said. "You can’t smoke on this street. You can’t smoke on the strawberry festival. It’s just like a stepping stone and more control they have over you.”

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