We’ve reported on the nanny-state proposed smoking ban in New Orleans by City Councilwoman Latoya Cantrell (D) here and here. But, this local New Orleans business owner could not have said it better when he slayed the government overreach proposal in the Times Picayune/NOLA.com last week.
Read it here:
Increased consumption of alcohol, perhaps binge drinking, at bars. Fewer customers. Congested sidewalks — rendering areas like Bourbon Street virtually impassable — packed with people who stubbornly demand a cigarette when drinking, regardless of any law. Shuttered storefronts where cigar, hookah or e-cigarette shops used to be. And the exodus of even more businesses to neighboring parishes. These are some of the unintended consequences that could follow the City Council’s proposed ban on smoking in bars, casinos and public places.
People primarily come to New Orleans because our culture embodies and celebrates indulgence. The irony of the smoking ban is that drinking and gambling establishments encourage customers to party but walk a fine line between having fun and going overboard. Bars and casinos are not pristine environments where patrons go for quiet solace and the puritan experience. If the smoking ban is passed on belief that government knows what is best for the people, what’s next to be prohibited in the name of public safety? Beignets? Pralines?
Many bars in New Orleans are nonsmoking. Customers vote with their feet to push venues in the appropriate direction. The smoking ban is so overbroad that it could ensnare understandable behavior. Someone may inadvertently light up a cigarette to accompany his or her go-cup in commiserating the latest loss at the Dome. In the French Quarter, smoking inside a tobacco business would still put a smoker within 25 feet of another business, which would be illegal under the ban.
Our city faces at least two greater threats to tourism than smoking in bars: crime and deteriorating infrastructure. Cities that offer a good business climate and do not saddle businesses with burdensome regulations are competing heavily for the tourist dollar. Losing a potential convention from the American Heart Association is nothing compared to the foreseeable losses that would result from leisure travelers who spend less or visit elsewhere. In fact, recent studies of tourism in New Orleans indicate that the percentage of visitors from leisure travel is nearly equal to that from conventions, and the leisure segment is growing, which helps to explain the recent boom in the city’s hotels and showcases the misjudgment of the smoking ban.
French Quarter business owner
We couldn’t agree with Khan more.