State Reps. Robert Faucheaux, Jr. and Alexander Heaton have filed bills for the 2007 legislative session that put The Louisiana Smoke-Free Air Act under fire. Both bills aim to create loopholes in the state law that will bring smoking back into restaurants and other workplaces that are currently protected.
Rep. Heaton’s bill attempts to allow smoking in restaurant bars if they are enclosed with separate ventilation systems while Rep. Faucheaux’s bill seeks to allow smoking in bars that are located in “private clubs” regardless of the type of alcohol permit they hold.
With the passage of The Louisiana Smoke-Free Air Act, our state legislators proved that Louisiana can indeed lead, not lag, when it comes to protecting a majority of the public and workers from secondhand smoke exposure.
Unfortunately, a small minority of people in Louisiana still don’t believe that secondhand smoke exposure can cause cancer, bronchitis, heart disease and other severe illnesses.
If smoking is harmful to those who smoke (which obviously it is), then why does it remain hard for some to believe that smoke from burning cigarettes (and exhaled by smokers) is harmful to nonsmokers when they inhale it in the form of secondhand smoke?
Education is the answer.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, walling off smokers from nonsmokers and expensive ventilation systems cannot protect workers and the public from the more than 4,000 toxic chemicals found in secondhand smoke, at least 60 of which are known to cause cancer.Ü
Creating “private clubs” to allow smoking indoors undermines the intent of The Louisiana Smoke-Free Air Act n “to preserve and improve the health, comfort, and environment of the people of Louisiana by limiting exposure to tobacco smoke.”
Finally, these bills do not represent the interest of the majority of Louisiana voters who desire smoke-free environments.
According to a recent poll conducted by The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living, 81 percent of registered voters in Louisiana are in favor of the fact that The Louisiana Smoke-Free Air Act eliminates smoking in all Louisiana restaurants, and 78 percent are in favor of the fact that the law requires most workplaces to be smoke-free.
I urge your readers to join me in requesting our state legislators to vote “NO” on any measure that seeks to weaken The Louisiana Smoke-Free Air Act, and let us start looking forward to the day when all workplaces in Louisiana are smoke-free.
Houma/Thibodaux Area Regional Coordinator
The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living