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As Louisiana ushers in 2007 with a new attitude that is supportive of health, smoke-free advocates have set out to educate citizens about the dangerous of secondhand smoke.

“In the New Year, we must continue to educate citizens about the real dangers of secondhand smoke, work at the local levels to protect all employees from secondhand smoke exposure and encourage parents and adults to safeguard the health of their children and loved one by making their homes and cars smoke-free as well,” said Terri Broussard, Louisiana advocacy director for the American Heart Association.


A “Change in the Air” is the theme for the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Louisiana campaign, which will come into effect on Jan. 1. The Louisiana Smoke-Free Air Act will clear the air and eliminate secondhand smoke in most public places, schools and workplaces, including restaurants, across the state.


“We will all breathe a little easier knowing that our children and a majority of workers will be protected from exposure to secondhand smoke. However, while the new law represents a major victory, our work is not done. Hospitality workers in casinos and bars remain largely unprotected,” Broussard said.

The law also restores the power of the local government to pass smoke-free laws that are harsher than the state’s law, giving municipalities in Louisiana the power to enact local laws that require all workplaces, including the likes of stands alone bars and casinos, to be smoke-free as well, according to coalition officials.


“With the passage of the Louisiana Smoke-Free Air Act, our state joins the ranks of national leaders in the movement to extinguish a serious public health threat that claims thousands of lives and costs taxpayers billions in lost productivity and healthcare expenses each year,” said Tante Chatman, Thibodaux area regional coordinator for the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living.

Coalition representatives said the trend in other states have shown that the demand for help quitting increases after the smoke-free laws are in effect. Some residents and business owners in the Tri-parish area have posed questions on how to better comply with the new law.

The coalition has developed resources and free information to help businesses owners and the general public understands the smoke-free act. The information answers any questions that individuals and business owners may have about compliance.

The smoke-free group is asking that businesses remove all ashtrays from the establishment and clearly post “No Smoking” signs or the international symbol within the restaurant. The coalition has also asked for school to prohibit smoking on school property, including building, grounds (outdoor and off campus activities) and buses.

According to the CTFLA, law enforcement agencies will issue fines to those who break the law by writing tickets or summons to appear before court. Half of the fines collected will go directly to the Department of Health and Hospitals’ Tobacco Control Program.

Individual fines across the state of Louisiana are $25 for the first offense, $50 for the second offense and $100 for the third and subsequent offenses. Employer fines are $100 for the first offense, $250 for the second offense and $500 for the third and subsequent offenses, said CTFLA representative Leslie Doles.