Letter: Smoke-free bars show shift in culture

The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living would like to congratulate Huey’s Bar, Red Star, & Ray’s Bar, among others, for recently opening as smoke-free establishments.

The decision of these bar owners to side with the health of their employees speaks volumes to the cultural and behavioral shifts taking place in Baton Rouge and around the state.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the surgeon general’s 2006 report titled “The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General,” service industry employees and entertainers breathe more secondhand smoke than any other type of employee, and have many of the same illnesses as smokers.

Additionally, multiple studies have shown that going smoke-free has little to no negative impact on the bottom line for bar owners.

Recently, the Ouachita Parish Policy Jury, Monroe City Council, and West Monroe Board of Aldermen voted to eliminate smoking in all work places, including bars and gambling facilities. On Jan. 2, 2014, Monroe, West Monroe and Quachita Parish will join Alexandria as leaders in this growing statewide movement to protect all employees and patrons by enacting these 100 percent smoke-free ordinances.

The question now remains what city or parish will be next to take the big step in achieving “Healthier Air for All.” If our local elected officials are truly charged with protecting the health and welfare of residents, there’s no time like the present for Baton Rouge to join the smoke-free movement.

Quanda Charles

regional manager The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living

New Orleans