The New Orleans City Council Thursday night adopted — unanimously — a comprehensive smoking ban in the city. This is the first time I’ve written a post about the passage of a smoking ban in a long time. Pretty much everywhere that was going to pass a ban has already done it.
Louisiana already had a ban on smoking in restaurants, but the New Orleans council went one step further and banned smoking in all nightclubs and bars. New Orleans was one of the largest cities in the country without a comprehensive smoking ban. (I think San Antonio is the biggest city without a comprehensive ban … the city has a ban, but it’s full of a loopholes, so it doesn’t count in my book.).
There were some concerns during the council hearing that the new law could financially hurt city businesses. I would respond that the No. 1 industry in New Orleans is tourism obviously and most tourists are coming from areas of the country that already have smoking bans, so they are used to it. No one is going to stop coming to New Orleans because of a smoking ban.
Here is an editorial from the New Orleans Times-Picayune hailing the vote.
All that being said … a Kentucky Health Issues poll shows that two-thirds of the people in Kentucky favour a ban on smoking in restaurants and bars. Sixty-six percent are in favour and 29 percent are opposed. Wow, in a tobacco-growing state with the highest smoking rate in the state.
I suspect a pretty strong reason there’s such strong support for a statewide smoking ban is most of the larger cities and several other smaller towns in Kentucky already have smoking bans, so people are used to the idea. The three biggest cities in Kentucky — Louisville, Lexington and Bowling Green — have had total smoking bans for at least a couple of years. There simply aren’t that many places left in Kentucky where people can smoke indoors, at least in restaurants.
Sure enough, the cities of Louisville (74 percent support) and Lexington (75 percent) had the most support for a statewide ban.
In light of this poll, Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo said it’s time for a House vote on a smoking ban. In previous years, proposed bans have not been able to get out of committee … to be honest, even with such overwhelming public support, there’s no guarantee a proposed ban will get to a House vote this year, not with the money and lobby power of Big Tobacco in Kentucky.
Still, it’s encouraging and interesting how attitudes have changed about public smoking — even in Kentucky.
Oh, man, I remember back in the day on those old Topix forums, this story drove the smokers’ rights crowd crazy. It just sent them into a tizzy of “lies! lies! lies! Junk science!”
Well, for whatever reason, that “junk science” has been confirmed repeatedly. ER admissions for heart attacks drop, and sometimes dramatically, after indoor smoking bans are put in place.
According to a study in from the North Carolina Department of Health, admissions at hospitals for heart attacks dropped 21 percent in the first year of that state’s statewide smoking ban. The state also says admissions for asthma dropped 9 percent after the ban was imposed. (A Fox station did a story on the five-year anniversary and of course Fox questioned those numbers. They found a doctor who didn’t believe the numbers. But, did that doctor have any data to back up that assertion other than his anecdotal opinion …? No, of course not. After all, it’s FOX! What do you expect?)
There was kind of a flurry of stories on this 21 percent drop-off from North Carolina because this month was the five-year anniversary of the full-fledged smoking ban in that state. If I remember right, it was the first full smoking ban in any Southern state … and in fact, North Carolina is still the only Southern state with a full smoking ban. Other Southern states such as Arkansas, Florida, Georgia and Louisiana still allow smoking in bars. And Virginia has a funky, confusing smoking ban that in effect banned smoking in most bars and restaurants.
The City of New Orleans, famous for its iconic smoky blues and jazz clubs, is considering a full smoking ban which would apply to all bars and casinos.
This would be a great accomplishment for the anti-smoking movement. The political will behind smoking bans has withered in the past few years. I don’t believe there’s been a new statewide ban anywhere for at least three or four years (I believe Indiana was the last state to impose a restaurant smoking ban — in 2012. Thirty-nine states have partial or complete bans on indoor smoking, but over the past few years, the mantle of smoking bans has been passed on to cities and counties in those 11 remaining states, which are mostly in the South, all very conservative and have very anti-regulation state Legislatures.).
Anyway, Louisiana already has a statewide restaurant smoking ban. The New Orleans proposal would expand that ban to bars, clubs and taverns.
The American Cancer Society conducted a poll in mid-December finding that 67 percent of the respondents either “somewhat” or “strongly” support a total smoking ban for New Orleans, while only 32 percent “somewhat” or “strongly” oppose the total smoking ban.
Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they are more likely to go to bars or casinos if there is a smoking ban … and the number for regular smokers is higher — 64 percent (that doesn’t surprise me, plenty of smokers have told me they hate smoky bars, too.).
In a quote in this story from “Gambit,” a New Orleans news Website:
“We ask the New Orleans City Council to pass a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance protecting all workers,” said Amber Stevens, a cancer survivor who has volunteered with the ACS for 17 years. Stevens’ mother and husband also are cancer survivors. “I’m more likely to go into more places without breathing heavy smoke. … Why do we have to be punished? We love New Orleans entertainment as much as anyone else.”
There is opposition to the proposal, from the French Quarter Business League and (for some reason) the Louisiana State Police. The crux of their opposition is fear over lost revenues and lost taxes.
From the story:
In a Nov. 12 statement, Chris Young of the French Quarter Business League (FQBL) said the measure “will have a devastating impact on badly needed tax revenues that provide police and fire protection, maintain the streets, pays government employees and keeps the city moving ahead.” He added that the ordinance “cuts against New Orleans’ strong tradition of tolerance and diverse lifestyles.”
The Louisiana State Police projects a loss of $100 million in tax revenues over 2 years from the ban. A loss of $50 million a year? Seriously? Tourists will stop going to New Orleans because of a smoking ban? When most of those tourists are coming from parts of the U.S. that don’t allow smoking anywhere (39 states, remember)? Pshaw! (The American Cancer Association essentially said the same thing…)
The University of Alabama, deep in tobacco country and deep in anti-regulatory country, announced last week that it is going completely tobacco-free. That means no cigarettes, no chew, not even e-cigs (though these are not technically a tobacco product) on the Tuscaloosa campus (it also includes frats and sororities). Alabama joins numerous other college campuses around the country in banning tobacco products (not many of those are in the Deep South, however.). Auburn and Troy (which is in Alabama) have also banned tobacco products while University of Alabama-Birmingham has a policy of not hiring smokers.
Smoking bans, while popular throughout much of the country, are still a stickler in the South. A poll connected to this Univ. of Alabama article shows that 53 percent are opposed to the tobacco ban, while 46 percent are in favour of it. Trust me, polls in other parts of the country would likely run two-to-one or even three-to-one in favour.
Alabama is kind of an odd duck when it comes to smoking bans overall. There is no stateside smoking ban, however, Alabama might have the most communities with city bans. There’s at least two or three dozen cities in Alabama with smoking bans, including the biggest city, Birmingham. Texas has a similar setup, virtually every major city in Texas has a smoking ban, but their state Legislatures are so conservative, statewide bans are a total nonstarter.
This part of the story is kind of interesting, last year, the student government association at Alabama actually voted against a tobacco ban, but the university got support from five campus organizations to implement a ban.
Too, too funny…. R.J. Reynolds, makers of Camel and, soon-to-be makers of Newport cigarettes, which for years fought smoking bans tooth and nail (often times through tavern associations and other fronts), will be banning smoking in its buildings, except for specially designated “smoking rooms.” (Wonder if they will be glass rooms like at the airport in Salt Lake City?)
I think it’s funny they’re “phasing it in,” to not disrupt their smoking employees too much. First smoking will be banned in conference rooms and elevators in their buildings in North Carolina, New Mexico and Tennessee, but you can still smoke in hallways and personal offices (Interesting … according to my information, New Mexico bans smoking in all workplaces — so this article may have overlooked that. You can still smoke in some workplaces in N.C. Tennessee doesn’t have any statewide law.). Anyway, I digress. By, 2016, you will only be able to smoke in R.J. Reynolds buildings in designated smoking rooms.
Interesting, again … Reynolds already bans smoking in its factories and cafeterias.
According to Reynolds smokesman (err, spokesman) David Howard:
“We recognize that indoors restrictions are the norm today, so most people expect a smoke free business environment,” Reynolds American spokesman David Howard.
“We respect the rights and personal choices of employees who choose to smoke or use other tobacco products and those who don’t.”
“We are simply better aligning our tobacco use policies with the realities of what we’re seeing in the general public today,” he said. (Yeah, a reality that Reynolds fought to the death for nearly 20 years in countless smokefree workplace battles around the country.)
Russia, one of the most heavily smoking nations in the world is cracking down on tobacco use. I’m honestly kind of shocked by this.
Russia passed a smoking ban that had already been implemented at schools, public transportation and hospitals. Now, part two of the ban is coming into play — bans on smoking in restaurants, cafes and hotels (apparently not bars, yet, however.).
Russia joins most of the rest of Europe in implementing various levels of smoking bans.
In addition, according to this article from the French Press Agency, Russia has also raised the taxes on cigarettes, more than doubling the price of a pack from 25 rubles in 2010 to 59 rubles in 2014. (Still cheap, that’s $1.25 Euros vs. $1.70 Euros per pack).
Here is a funny article from NBC News about Russians complaining about the smoking bans, one of them saying, “We are a doomed country.” (Oh, Christ that reminds me of the some of the doom and gloom stuff from smokers’ rights weasels in the U.S. 10 years ago about smoking bans.).
Russia, like much of Eastern Europe, is a region of the world where people smoke heavily. According to this article, 40 million of the 143 million people in Russia smoke, about 28 percent, compared to about 19 percent in the U.S. And according to the same article, about 400,000 people in Russia die every year from smoking -related illnesses.
Unfortunately, Russia basically being the Wild, Wild west, especially when it comes to tobacco control, I fully expect these smoking bans to be flouted by a lot of people. The higher tax rate on cigarettes has created a huge black market in Russia, with dealers buying cigs in Belarus or Kazakhstan. Still in the French Agency article, tobacco officials concede their sales are dropping, and that blaming the black market is an excuse.
OK, I’ve been called a do-gooder more times than I can count, but even for me this is a bit much (thanks to Haruko for the link). Sorry to the rest of my tobacco control brethren whom I support 97 percent of the time, I can’t completely jump on board this one. I have enough of a Libertarian streak that I think this is a little overboard.
The City of New York just imposed a ban on cigarette sales for people under the age of 21.
My problem with this is it likely will do little to cut down on smoking and it just smacks a little too much of “nanny state.” This is the same city under serial do-gooder Michael Bloomberg banned extra large sodas, which didn’t stand up to legal challenges (dumbest law ever. People would just buy two large sodas rather than one jumbo soda and drink the same amount.) Bloomberg was behind this law, too, though he is no longer mayor.
On Raw Story, which is a pretty liberal web site, even most of the supposed “nanny state liberals” are opposed to this. 18-year-olds can get a full driver’s licence, they can join the military, they can vote, they can see R-rated movies by themselves. But, they can’t buy a pack of cigarettes in New York City. Really? I’m old enough to remember that 45 years ago, young adults protested for the right to vote. And after years of protests and the ugliness of the Vietnam War, in which they could not vote but were asked to die for their country, they’re told in NYC they can’t buy a pack of smokes?
Haruko beat me to this point. The only thing 18-20 year olds can’t do is legally buy or use alcohol. The theory behind keeping alcohol illegal for kids under 21 is that teens haven’t developed the common sense yet to know when they are too drunk to drive. Of course, you can say this about ANYONE, but it’s particularly acute for kids 18-21. So there is some common sense to that law. But, I’m not seeing the common sense in the New York City law and I question whether it will accomplish anything. I doubt it will stop 18-21 year-olds from smoking.
The difference between alcohol and cigarettes is cigarettes aren’t an intoxicant, well, not much of one … let’s put it this way, no one ever got killed from someone smoking and driving. And frankly, I don’t see how this is going to save anyone’s life. Very, very few people start smoking between 18-21. Almost everyone starts smoking at 15-18, when cigarettes are already illegal for kids. All this is going to do is encourage adult teens to get their older brothers or friends to buy their cigarettes for them, or they can just drive or take the subway to Hoboken or out to Uniondale or Hempstead or to Yonkers and buy all the cigs they want (or frankly, it will probably encourage more adult teens to use e-cigs. The law also banned e-cig sales to adult teens, but again, they can just take a subway to Long Island to buy their e-cig products.). Again, it’s laws like this that don’t seem to be based on a lot of common sense that give the tobacco control crowd such a bad rep as do-gooders. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone files suit over the law (like people did against New York’s really stupid jumbo soda pop law).
Frankly, I support an approach of continuing to educate kids of the dangers of smoking rather than this law. In the long run, education will make more inroads than laws that adult teens will see as specious and hypocritical.
I think you’re going to see more and more of this, and I’m becoming more and more OK with it.
The cities of L.A., San Francisco and Long Beach last week all banned e-cigarette use indoors — that means mostly bars and restaurants and workplaces.
Now, e-cigs put out a vapour that has virtually no smell, and it does not irritate your eyes and nose like cigarette smoke. However, it is laced with nicotine, and people are not comfortable being in a room with nicotine-laced steam floating in the room.
“We have a right to … choose to breathe clean air,” Councilwoman Nury Martinez told her colleagues. “And if this device turns out to be safe, then we can always undo the ordinance. But if this device proves not to be safe, we cannot undo the harm this will create on the public health.”
and the other side of the argument:
Councilman Joe Buscaino led an unsuccessful attempt to exempt bars and nightclubs from the ban, a measure sought by lobbyists for the e-cigarette industry. He too invoked a family member while making his arguments.
E-cigarettes “are not tobacco,” he said. “I don’t think they should be regulated exactly the same way. And I’ve heard from so many people, including my cousin Anthony, that they’ve stopped smoking from the help of e-cigarettes.”
I guess I feel like if e-cigs have helped you quit smoking real cigarettes, then that somehow being banned from smoking them in bars or restaurants really isn’t going to change anything for you. More power to you if they’ve genuinely helped you quit smoking. You can continue not smoking cigarettes in spite of this ban.
Meanwhile, in nearby Long Beach, a similar ban was passed, and then San Francisco banned them indoors just yesterday. San Francisco is also requiring a special licence to sell e-cigs.
These major California cities join Washington, D.C., New York City and Chicago as cities banning e-cigs indoors. Again, a growing trend. People are just not comfortable breathing that steam despite the lack of odour.
Normally, a story like this wouldn’t really get on my radar, but then I remembered this is Georgia, buried well into the Deep South.
I haven’t written much about smoking bans in the last couple of years, mostly because not a lot has been happening on that front. Places that are going to ban indoor smoking have done it and places that haven’t done it — mostly Southern states — have if anything the last few years become more stubborn about passing regulations on private businesses.
Georgia has some city bans, but statewide, the only ban is on smoking in restaurants. This week, the state of Georgia banned all tobacco products on its state college campuses — Univ. of Georgia, Georgia Tech and 29 other campuses. This even includes outdoor football stadiums. I have no idea if this also includes e-cigs, which aren’t mentioned in the article (debatable if e-cigs are a “tobacco product.”)
I think this is a fairly big deal because Georgia’s university system is huge, with more than 300,000 students, and like I said, it’s in the Deep South, where the laws are pretty lax about cigarette smoking. Few states in the Deep South even bother to ban smoking in restaurants, much less bars (though a number of major cities in the South do have smoking bans). And not coincidentally, partly because of low state cigarette taxes in many of these states, the Deep South has some of the highest smoking rates in the country.