Today, the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Louisiana kicked off its Smoke-Free Louisiana Campaign, a public campaign to ask legislators to stand up for the health of their constituents by passing a statewide comprehensive smoke-free policy to make all workplaces smoke-free, including bars and gaming facilities.
“Today’s campaign announcement is the first step in moving Louisiana to be a healthier state,” says bill author and nurse practitioner, Representative Dustin Miller. “We are losing too many loved ones to diseases that are largely preventable. Now is the time for changes that can save lives and create better places to work, live and play.”
The Smoke-Free Louisiana Campaign is a coalition of organizations that supports evidence-based strategies proven to reduce tobacco use and exposure to harmful secondhand smoke, including spearheading the effort to protect all employees, musicians, and entertainers in bars and gaming facilities from secondhand smoke.
Tobacco is the number one cause of preventable death nationwide. This year alone, an estimated 480,000 people in the United States will die from tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke. In Louisiana, 7,200 adults die every year from their own smoking and given current smoking rates 98,000 children currently living in the state will ultimately die prematurely from smoking.
A comprehensive smoke-free policy at the state level would follow the passage of many comprehensive smoke-free local and metro policies around the state. Local governments in fourteen cities and municipalities have enacted comprehensive smoke-free policies in advance of a statewide policy, including the City of Baton Rouge (2017), the Parish of Lafayette (2017),the town of Lecompte (2017), the town of Colfax (2017), the town of Glenmora (2017), City of Bogalusa (2016), the City of New Orleans (2015), the City of Hammond (2015), the Town of Cheneyville (2014), Monroe (2013), West Monroe (2013), Ouachita Parish (2013), the Town of Woodworth (2012), and the City of Alexandria (2012).
“We applaud the work that has been done by councils all over Louisiana. Their votes in favor of protecting the health of all employees in their parishes has helped to protect many lives, but there is still work to be done to be inclusive to all of Louisiana’s workforce,” says Raegan Carter, spokesperson for the CTFLA and Region 2 Manager for the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living (TFL).
On January 1, 2007, Act 815, also known as the Louisiana Smoke-Free Air Act, went in to effect. This policy prohibits smoking in most public places and workplaces, including all restaurants with or without attached bars. However, the act left a gap and did not protect employees in bars and gaming facilities. Only a small fraction of the state’s population (21.9%) is protected from secondhand smoke.
Each day that Louisiana delays in establishing smoke-free bars and casinos adds to our state’s healthcare costs, costs employers’ productivity, and results in loss of income from potential visitors to our state. Thousands of Louisianans die from smoking-related causes yearly and smoking drains Louisiana of almost $1.85 billion in health care costs every year.
Currently 17 U.S. states that enacted strong statewide policies, prohibiting smoking in workplaces, restaurants, bars and gaming facilities including Arizona, California, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.
The smoking prevalence among Louisiana adults has been on the decline. In the last two years alone, Louisiana's adult smoking rate has decreased by 1.6 percent -- dropping from 23.5 percent of adult smokers in 2013 to 22.8 percent in 2015. However, the state's smoking rate is still significantly higher than the national rate, currently at 15.5 percent.
Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and at least 69 that cause cancer. According to the Surgeon General, secondhand smoke causes lung cancer, heart disease and stroke in non-smoking adults and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), low birth weight, respiratory problems, ear infections and more severe asthma in infants and children. The Surgeon General has also found that secondhand smoke is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in the United States each year, there is no safe level of exposure, and only smoke-free laws provide effective protection.
The Smoke-free Louisiana Campaign Coalition is composed of the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living (TFL), The American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), The American Lung Association in Louisiana, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, The Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation, and numerous other local and national organizations. For more information visit http://makingakilling.la/