The state of Louisiana has a no smoking law in place that prevents smoking in public venues and employment sites and has left it to the local authorities to enforce any gaps in the enforcement of these rules.
Baton Rouge legislators have been contemplating rolling out a blanket ban on smoking that would prevent all establishments including casinos and bars in the city to stop their patrons from smoking. While many of the universities in Baton Rouge have a no smoking on campus policy, some universities have not enforced it. The new law would force all universities and establishments to comply with the blanket ban which covers smoking in all forms including cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes, hookahs, pipes and marijuana.
Baton Rouge legislators have made it clear that the new law will encompass all forms of tobacco and other plants that are used to inhale irrespective of whether it is synthetic or natural in its form. While the casinos and bars in Baton Rouge are yet to officially voice their opinion on the new no smoking proposal, a similar no smoking ban in New Orleans proved to have a negative impact on Harrah’s Casino’s gaming revenue as patrons felt their freedom was limited after being told they cannot smoke and play at their gaming tables.
The blanket ban in Baton Rouge will most likely have a similar impact on the city’s casinos gaming revenues. These concerns have been taken up by the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council and a vote on the new law in expected to take place in April. The council has already obtained five out of the seven mandatory votes required from its council members. The city parish government in Baton Rouge gets an important part of its budget from the casino industry.
The city has an agreement with the Hollywood Casino, from L’Auberge Casino and Hotel and the Belle of Baton Rouge Casino and Hotel that allows the city to receive a percentage of net gaming revenue. The city parish had an $830 million budget in 2015 and $9.8 million of that came from the casino industry. Metro Council members are not in favour of a law which allows the government to tell business owners what they can and cannot do in their business operations.
The campaign to stop smoking in Baton Rouge has received a lot of support from the smoke-free Baton Rouge group which sponsored a poll where 500 locals where surveyed to get their views on the proposed blanket ban. The results showed that more than seventy percent of those surveyed in the East Baton Rouge Parish were in favour of the ban that “prohibits smoking in all workplaces, including bars and casinos.”