There are likely to be some happy — and some not-so-happy — customers when a no-smoking policy goes into effect for Shreveport casinos on Aug. 1.
Non-smoking customers in the Louisiana area will no longer be discomfortingly greeted by the “wall of smoke” cited by one casino worker at a city council meeting earlier this month.
Following that day’s impassioned hearing and then a somewhat confusing vote on a proposed Smoke-Free Air Act exemption for casinos, the issue was tabled, meaning that the city’s casinos will go smoke-free on the previously set date.
What happened at Shreveport City Council meeting?
When the Shreveport City Council met July 13, members considered repealing part of legislation that banned smoking at businesses. This would create an exemption for casinos in Shreveport.
Yet when the city council adjourned, no decision one way or the other seemed clear. Several hours of public comment preceded an up-or-down vote on the exemption amendment. The result of that vote, by a 4-3 count, favored the amendment.
Councilwoman Tabitha Taylor proposed reconsideration of the vote, and the rest of the council agreed. The group then tabled the issue.
However, doing so without a revote meant the smoking ban would still go into effect as scheduled. The issue does not receive reconsideration from the city council until a motion is made to do so. Until a majority vote to take it off the table occurs, the item remains listed as “unfinished business.”
Yet Grayson Boucher, a Shreveport City Council member, went to social media to emphasize that “this measure is DEAD. … As far as I’m concerned, it’s over.”
CDC: No smoking preferred by majority of casino-goers
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 75% of casino visitors want smoke-free casinos.
“Casino, bar, and restaurant workers are more exposed to toxic secondhand smoke in their jobsite compared to other segments of the US workforce.”
Air condition, heating and ventilation systems alone can’t eliminate second-hand smoke exposure, per the CDC.
On the other side, casino-goers who do smoke have expressed their dissatisfaction. Back in summer 2020 when the ban initially passed, Roosevelt King of Monroe told KTBS: “I was mad when I heard about it. It’s going to be tough not being able to smoke, which a lot of people like to do. So I think it’s going to push the customers away.”
A Smoke-Free Louisiana consultant disputed this view at the July 13 council hearing.
After the vote, Ashley Hebert, Louisiana government relations director for the American Heart Association, thanked council members for their action.
“Bar and casino patrons and employees have waited on these life-saving health protections far too long.”
The maintenance of the ban is particularly timely. Dr. Martha Whyte, regional medical director for the Louisiana Office of Public Health, had noted that COVID-19 impacts the lungs.
Could it be a win-win for Shreveport casinos, as well?
While casinos pushed for the exemption on the basis that not allowing smoking would decrease revenues, the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation promotes the idea that non-smoking customers actually have more disposable income to spend at these establishments than smokers.
The Smoke-Free Louisiana Coalition had previously pointed out that delaying the implementation of no-smoking rules in casinos was resulting in the loss of potential income from Shreveport visitors who might otherwise play at the city’s casinos.
As the 30th jurisdiction in Louisiana to ban smoking, Shreveport’s two casinos will bring the total number of non-smoking casinos in the United States to about 122.