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Group wants to ban smoking in bars, casinos across Baton Rouge

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BATON ROUGE - The group Smoke-free East Baton Rouge is working on a campaign to extend an existing statewide smoking ban to include bars and gaming facilities.

The group, made up of Louisiana Cancer Research Center, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, Cancer Action Network, the American Lung Association and others, met Tuesday night at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church with members of the community and Metro Council leaders to discuss a possible proposal.  Smoke-free EBR said banning smoking in bars and gaming facilities would help protect residents, visitors and employees.

"It's about the workers who work in these environments where they're exposed to second hand smoke,"  Tonia Moore with Smoke-free EBR said. 

Workers may include musicians and gaming employees who are sometimes or always working in a smoky environment.  One man who attended the meeting Tuesday said he has friends in the music industry who are often exposed to second-hand smoke.

"I have a choice, I don't have to go," Bobby Thompson said. "There are people that have to work, have to be in those environments."

Joe Hall, owner of Baton Rouge bar Phil Brady's, told members of the community his establishment has two smoke-free nights a week.

"It can be done," he said. "Employees, people coming from out of town, tourists; they do not need to be in the bars and casinos with this going on."

Some bars in Baton Rouge are already completely smoke-free.

But, A bar owner across town argued people should butt out. Mahony's has been open for less than a year and owner Gary Brown said about 70 percent of his patrons smoke and it's good for business.

"Smoking inside should be a choice that both the customer and the owner make jointly," he said.

In 2007, the Louisiana Legislature passed ACT 815, eliminating smoking in workplaces and public spaces, including restaurants. Bars and gaming facilities were exempt.

Louisiana cities including New Orleans, Alexandria and Monroe have enacted tougher smoking regulations.


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