After months of debate, New Orleans, a city famous for its party scene and the site of this year's International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers trade show, has passed a comprehensive smoking ban.
The New Orleans City Council unanimously voted 7-0 yesterday to prohibit smoking in enclosed public spaces such as bars and casinos, hotel rooms, private clubs, correctional facilities and school grounds.
The ban, which was originally introduced by councilwoman LaToya Cantrell in August 2014, exempts cigar bars by grandfathering them in as long as they can prove they began operating before January 8, 2015. Additionally, a cigar bar must show that 10 percent of its total gross income stems from on-site tobacco sales and humidor rentals. Also, cigarettes are not to be smoked on the premises, and a cigar bar can't knowingly permit entrance to people under 21.
Patios, balconies and outdoor areas connected to either a bar, casino or restaurant will also be exempt from the smoking ban. Smoking will still be permitted on the city's famous Bourbon Street as well as in convention centers during tobacco-related events such as this summer's IPCPR trade show.
First-time violators of the ban will be fined $50, with that amount increasing with each offense in a 12-month period. The New Orleans Police Department was originally tasked to enforce the ban, but after deliberation before yesterday's vote, it was decided that responsibility will now fall under the city's health, parks, recreation, code enforcement and permitting departments. Individuals will also be able to police each other, as someone who wants to complain about a bar allowing smoking can call 311.
The ban will go into effect 90 days after Mayor Mitch Landrieu signs the final bill.