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News Summary

House rejects ban on smoking in bars, casinos

Publication Date: 6/3/2009
  • Author:AP
  • Publication:The Daily Advertiser

A proposal to ban smoking in bars and gambling facilities was resoundingly defeated Tuesday by the Louisiana House, which embraced arguments of personal freedom over debate about health safety.

The House vote was 71-29 against the bill, likely dooming its chances for the session despite support for a similar measure in the state Senate.

In 2007, a law took effect that banned smoking in restaurants, public places, public buildings and most places of employment. The proposal by Rep. Gary Smith, D-Norco, would require bars, casinos, off-track betting facilities and other gambling spots also to become smoke-free.

Supporters said the bill would protect workers and patrons from health problems tied to secondhand smoke, while also treating bars and casinos the same as restaurants that have been under a smoking ban for two years. Some restaurant owners have complained the smoking ban has cost them business because people can smoke while eating in many bars.

Smith said that two dozen states have similar bans, and that others were considering them.

"It's vital to the health of this state that we move in the direction of the rest of the nation, that we protect our employees and we provide a level playing field for our businesses," Smith said, armed with a litany of health statistics and studies about secondhand smoke.