Posted: Dec 6, 2011 6:14 PM by Stephanie Ryan
Updated: Dec 6, 2011 6:59 PM
BATON ROUGE - Judges at downtown Baton Rouge's district courthouse had enough of the "smoke tunnel" they describe in the entrance to the building. Now, they are enforcing an old city ordinance passed in 2005 that bans smoking within 25 feet of the entrance to a public building.
Chief Judge Chip Moore tells News 2 he and other judges simply got too many complaints from folks who had to walk through clouds of smoke to access the building.
He and other judges came to the consensus to hang several signs outside the building that read "No smoking with 25 feet of this building."
If smokers don't heed the warning, Moore said they could face up to a $500 fine or 30 days in jail.
It is up to deputies and police officers to enforce the rule, Moore said.
We didn't find any deputies telling folks to move away from the building, but we did find a handful of smokers. The number of people lighting up was far fewer than usual.
Most said they didn't see the sign and were unaware of the ban, but were happy to move.
"I chose to smoke, so you have to respect other people's rights," Lela Jones said. "That's why I don't mind moving a little further; I just dress for the weather."
So far, no one has been issued a criminal summons for smoking near the building.