The Shreveport Council today passed an amendment to undermine the effective and popular smoke-free ordinance to once again allow smoking in casinos, being the first municipality in Louisiana, and the first in the U.S. to withdraw smoke-free workplace protections from their hardworking constituents since Atlantic City rolled back under casino industry lobbying pressure in 2008 during the global financial crisis. With this move, Louisiana is once again first in the worst of ways and rankings.
“Casino employees and patrons are in desperate need of these lifesaving health protections,” said Feamula Bradley, Region 7 Manager, The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living. “Breaking their promise to their constituents and putting Shreveport’s casino workers back into smoke-filled work environments after nearly two years of workplace protections sends a loud and clear message that their health is irrelevant. The council, and the casinos, know that secondhand smoke exposure is hazardous to worker health. They know it triggers heart attacks, asthma attacks, and contributes to respiratory illness and even lung cancer. Yet, they are still willing to sacrifice their largely female and Black American workforce for a perceived competitive edge.”
On August 1, 2021, Shreveport became the 30th municipality in Louisiana to have passed and implemented a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance protecting virtually all indoor workers from the dangers of secondhand smoke. Yet, with this decision, the council has put thousands of employees who have been protected for almost two years in danger as they will once again be exposed to the dangers of second-hand smoke.
Despite the casinos’ predictions for economic doom and gloom, reports show that revenue has been largely unaffected since the ordinance went into effect. Shreveport and Bossier casinos are trending just as they were the past 5 years. In fact, Bally’s Shreveport led the market in April 2023 and was the only Shreveport-Bossier property with positive revenue gains. This, and the fact that both Shreveport casinos are actively hiring, shows that operating smoke-free is a non-factor.
Source: Louisiana Department of Public Safety. (2023, May 9). Revenue Reports. http://lgcb.dps.louisiana.gov/revenue_reports.htm
“While the choice to smoke is a personal one, no one has a ‘right’ to actively harm another person against his or her will. Secondhand smoke exposure is a clear issue of public health, and now that everyone is acutely aware of public health and safety issues, we are in disbelief that this new council would put an industry’s interests over their own citizens and voters,” said Jill Lucero, Development Director for the American Heart Association in Shreveport.
“Our policy makers and casino operators must realize that when they say that they care about the health and safety of their customers, employees and their communities - all while continuing to allow indoor smoking - they are at the very least being disingenuous. And their customers, employees and the greater public know it,” said Onjewel Smith, Southern States Strategist, American Nonsmokers’ Rights.
This was a critical moment for the Shreveport city council to stand by their community and they failed. Their decision to discard the health of their constituents will have a lasting impact on the health and well-being of Shreveport citizens and visitors. It is imperative that smoke-free environments are afforded to all of the city’s workers and that no one has to choose between their life and their livelihood.
# # # # #
The Smoke-free Louisiana Campaign Coalition is a group 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. It 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, , and numerous other local and national organizations.