Will efforts to make New Orleans' bars smoke-free backfire?

smoking outside photo

Earlier this week, Alex Woodward reported on Gambit’s blog about the efforts of Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell to make New Orleans’ bars smoke-free. 

“We’re seeing trends throughout the city that are driven by bar owners themselves,” Cantrell told Gambit. “Bars across the city are recognizing the trend [and] the immediate need for New Orleans to be a healthier city. ... They are showing other bar owners that this can be done, to no negative impact to the business, and they’re not losing patrons but gaining them.”

He reports that Mayor Mitch Landrieu has pledged support for the effort, and Councilman James Gray and Councilwoman Susan Guidry have as well. Their concern for the health of New Orleanians is understandable, but what are smokers to do? If they have to go outside, they’ll add to a bar or club’s noise footprint, which seems problematic at a time when sound and noise are so controversial. Many of New Orleans’ bars and venues are small or historic, so renovations such as double doors are impractical or impossible.     

A few of my favorite bars are smoky, and I’d love to have them become smoke-free for personal reasons, but the effort needs to be thought through so that looking out for the city’s health doesn’t exacerbate other problems.