Louisiana Senate committee agrees to ban smoking in bars

BATON ROUGE — Louisiana’s indoor smoking ban would be expanded to include bars, but not casinos, under legislation that squeaked smoking in barout of a Senate committee on Wednesday.

The Senate Health & Welfare Commtitee voted 4-3 to send Senate Bill 133 to the floor after supporters said it was needed to protect the health of workers and patrons.

It’s at least the third time that a similar bill has passed out of that committee only to die later in the process.

The bill by Sen. Rob Marionneaux Jr., D-Livonia, originally would have banned smoking in bars and casinos. But an amendment took casinos out of the mix in an effort to soften the lobbying against the ban.

“We take what we can get,” Marionneaux said.

At least 27 states have enacted similar bans, he said.

Opponents, said a ban would spell economic harm for bars and gambling establishments, curtail personal freedom and reduce state tax revenues.

“We are talking about adult establishments … and we continue to feel that the people who should make these decisions are the bar owners and their customers,” said Chris Young, who represents the Louisiana Association of Beverage Alcohol Licensees.

Voting for the ban were Sens. Butch Gautreaux, D-Morgan City, Joe McPherson, D-Woodworth, Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, and Cynthia Willard-Lewis, D-New Orleans. Voting against it were Sens. David Heitmeier, D-Algiers, Sherri Cheek, R-Shreveport, and Fred Mills Jr., R-St. Martinville.

By Jan Moller, The Times-Picayune The Times-Picayune

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