Study: Indoor air pollution levels in New Orleans have dropped 96 percent because of smoking ban

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A predictable result, but still a stunning number when you think about it.

According to a study done by the Roswell Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., the level of small particulates pollution in New Orleans has dropped 96 percent since the city imposed a ban on smoking in bars and clubs in April

Ninety-six percent. Man. That’s a lot of crap people were breathing before. In casinos, traditionally the most smoky venues of all, the small particulates level dropped 99 percent. So, all that’s left is like a few dust motes.

From a Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids press release:

“We’ve heard from so many people in our bars, restaurants and casino who say they feel better and can breathe easier now without the stress of knowing they are in an unhealthy environment,” said New Orleans Councilwoman Latoya Cantrell, the ordinance’s chief sponsor. “The air is definitely cleaner in New Orleans – and the city has made a very smooth transition to this improvement. This makes it clear that we did the right thing.”

“The smoke-free law has always been about protecting people’s health by creating healthier air for all to enjoy,” said Tonia Moore, associate director, the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living (TFL). “This study demonstrates conclusively that the law is protecting the health of New Orleans hospitality workers, entertainers and patrons who were previously endangered by the harmful air pollutants in secondhand smoke. They and their families have to be thrilled that they have significantly reduced their exposure to the harmful health effects of secondhand smoke, including increased risks of cancer and heart disease.”

Now, the law was fought tooth and nail by a coalition of New Orleans restaurants, bars and casinos (including some restaurants that are already smokefree 😕 …. which is really curious to me.) The coalition filed suit against the law passed last year, but the lawsuit was dismissed. The businesses behind the lawsuit were concerned that the smoking ban would cost them customers and revenues.

Next, I would love to see the data on how the smoking ban is affecting tourism and business in New Orleans. It would probably be at least December until we could see some preliminary 6-month data on sales taxes, hotel taxes, etc., in the city.

This month is also the 10-year anniversary of the Katrina disaster in New Orleans. I found a bunch of stories on how tourism in the city is thriving, even if some neighbourhoods have not been rebuilt (and may never be rebuilt).

Here’s a nice tidbit about the tourism business in New Orleans from the Times-Picayune:

From a tourism perspective, here are the facts from UNO’s Hospitality Research Center.  In 2006, the city hosted 3.72 million visitors (a 74 percent decline) who spent $2.89 billion, a 42 percent decline from pre-disaster numbers. In 2014, visitors numbered 9.52 million and their spending was $6.81 billion.

So, in short, the number of tourists visiting New Orleans and the amount of money they spend has more than doubled since the year after Katrina. I mean, compared to where New Orleans was in 2006, businesses are worried about some kind of perceived hit from a smoking ban? Please. I mean, in 2005, it looked like the city would never recover. Be thrilled with how New Orleans is doing. Don’t be freaked out by a little thing like a smoking ban … that’s a pretty trivial challenge compared to Katrina.

 

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