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Smoking ban proposal a month away

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BATON ROUGE - Metro Councilwoman Tara Wicker (District 10) says a proposed smoking ban could be presented to the council within a months time. If approved, the ordinance would apply to bars, restaurants, and casinos.

"We know that we have individuals that are not able to be healthy and work inside certain environments," said Wicker.

Wicker says the proposed ban will apply to smoking tobacco, although electronic cigarettes are also being considered for the proposal.

The Bulldog bar on Perkins Road will ban smoking inside its building starting Monday. Smoking on its enclosed patio will still be allowed.

The Bulldog has several locations across the state. One is located in New Orleans where the whole city will ban smoking on Monday. Company owners decided to make all of its locations smoke-free because of the New Orleans ban.

The management at the Baton Rouge location says it was surprised to learn many of its smoking customers were ok with the ban because they would rather go outside to smoke. The company initially feared losing customers over the ban.

"We have a lot of smoking guests who come in and we didn't want to alienate a lot of long term patrons," said general manager Remi Dematteo. He says the bar will save money from smoke damage done to its air filters and cigarette burns in the furniture.

However, not every company is as enthusiastic about a potential city-wide ban. Gary Brown, owner of the Bald Eagle bar in Downtown Baton Rouge says the ban would be unfair to his business since its built into a building where he can not construct an outside smoking area. Brown's patrons would still be allowed to leave the bar to smoke, but they would not be allowed to bring their drinks with them.

Brown also said it's unfair if the city required his business to ban a legal habit. However, proponents of the proposal say the ban will protect workers.

"We also want to make sure we identify the rights of those individuals that are working with those individuals that are working in those organizations or businesses, who want to make a living but not die in the process," said Wicker.



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