Bars preparing for new smoking ban to go into effect
BATON ROUGE - With an outdoor patio space slowly coming together, The Jefferson bar is adjusting where customers can smoke.
With the city's smoke-free ordinance going into effect on June 1, the owner of The Jefferson, Linda White, said she is doing what she can to keep her customers coming.
“They're not happy about it either, because 90 percent of my customers smoke. But, it is what it is. So, like I say, we're trying to make the outside area nice,” said White.
Even with the outdoor accommodations, White says her only concern is losing patrons.
"I'm a little bit concerned because I’m not sure I'm not going to lose customers," she said. “Because we're so close to Ascension Parish and you can still smoke there.”
Despite concerns about government overreach, according to the Baton Rouge Smoke-Free Coalition, it is the city's job to make sure the more than 3000 bar and casino workers have healthy work environments.
“It’s the same thing that we see in the bar and restaurant industry about food safety,” said Raegan Carter, spokesperson for the coalition. “We look at this as clean and healthy air being part of that government responsibility."
With a $500 fine for the first offense, police say enforcing the new policy will be at the officer's discretion.
“We're only going to respond if somebody calls us. It'll be the officer's discretion to decide if he wants to charge the individual and/or the manager or the operator of the establishment,” said Robert McGarner Jr, deputy chief of field operations with BRPD.
At The Jefferson, where you can buy a pack of smokes at a vending machine, the new ordinance will take some getting used to.
“There are a couple of them that are happy because I do have a few people that come that are non-smokers. But overall, our business is smoking."