Tuesday April 21, 2015 marked a new era for New Orleans in terms of smoking. Starting at midnight on Tuesday casinos, bars, hotels, and other public places like private clubs and stores no longer permit smoking. New Orleans is famous for being fun-loving and freewheeling, where drinking on streets and burlesque is normal. The smoking ban for many seems a little out of the ordinary for the laissez-faire style that New Orleans is built on. Besides regular cigarettes the new law is banning smoking electronic cigarettes in public locations.
Harrah’s New Orleans and bar owners filed a lawsuit to stop the ban from coming into effect. A state judge did not stop the city from instituting the ban; however, there is a hearing set for May 21, 2015 to discuss the matter.
Alex Fein of the Court of Two Sisters Restaurant and bar said in a television news report that the city has not thought through the consequences of the ban. Many business owners feel revenue cuts of 20% will hit the city in the first year.
City officials disagree with such revenue predictions and says that bans in other cities have not hurt profits on a long term basis. However Michael L. Marlow, a professor of economics at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo believes that smoking bans have had adverse effects on businesses since they began being implemented. His white paper from cato.org can be found here in .PDF format. Business owners in places like Washington state are also quite well aware of the consequences and some blame smoking bans for a wave of casino closures in that state. It is still too early to sort the influences of Macau’s economic tumble in the midst of implementing a partial ban in October, but many economists attribute at least a small part of it to the ban.