NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Nearly 200 people packed New Orleans City Hall on Wednesday night to voice their opinions on a controversial push to ban smoking in bars and casinos.
"I no longer burn at night, my eyes no longer burn and my nose no longer bleeds," said Treeva Copeland, a blackjack dealer from Denver, Colo.
Speaking at the town hall meeting, Copeland says after Colorado passed a law banning cigarette smoking in casinos, her entire life changed. "I am fortunate that I live in a state that protects me from the effects of secondhand smoke," Copeland said.
New Orleans City Councilwoman Latoya Cantrell wants to provide similar protection to people here. She's suggesting banning smoke from bars and casinos, and the ban includes electronic cigarettes.
Musician Chaz Washington says, "It would be helpful for the bar owners because I think they'll find they'll get more people in the bar because a majority of the people do not smoke, and a lot of people don't come to the places because there's too much smoke."
Alex Fine contends, "We just feel like the businesses, bars and casinos should be allowed to choose how they run their business. Smoking is a legal product."
While 90 percent of the speakers are in favor of the ban, the rest don't agree that electronic cigarettes should be included in the proposal.
"I hate tobacco more than I hate anything in the world. I stand with the service industry and the musicians. But I also sell vape products. I've gotten entire families off of smoking," said vapor dealer Kevin Lipman.
Proponents of electronic cigarettes say they don't contain tobacco and there isn't any scientific research to suggest that they cause secondhand smoke. Yet, supporters of the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living say they still want them to be included in the proposal, and they say in other areas of the state - like Monroe - vapor businesses haven't been affected by similar bans.
"For the vape community that is so passionate, I will tell you we have vape shops still and we have more vape shops than before the ordinance was passed," Monroe resident Jennifer Hainline said.
After listening to all of Wednesday night's speakers, the full City Council will take up the issue at it's next meeting on Jan. 22. If passed, businesses will have 90 days to comply.