New Orleans’ smoking ban comes into force next week:
…though progressive lawmakers are excited about the new regulations, bar owners in the French Quarter and other parts of town are not too happy about being told what they can and cannot do at their private business.
In an article by the Gambit this week, bar owners from Pat O’Brien’s, Cosimo’s Bar and Buffa’s Lounge and Restaurant all spoke about their distaste for the city’s decision to pile on more business regulations and limiting business with what they can allow.
In January, Cosimo’s owner Ray Hummel pleaded with Mayor Mitch Landrieu to veto the smoke-free measure, which had passed the New Orleans City Council. Hummel estimates 80 to 90 percent of his customers are smokers, and if Cosimo’s loses 20 percent in sales, he’ll be out of business. His plea, posted on Facebook, went viral.
“This is not a matter of smoking or non-smoking,” Hummel wrote. “This is a matter of CHOICE. Adult civil liberties CHOICE.”
A few blocks from Cosimo’s is Buffa’s Lounge & Restaurant, which allows smoking in its front bar but prohibits smoking in a back bar where there are tables, chairs and a stage that often hosts live music. Owner Chuck Rogers made the change to the back bar so Buffa’s would be able to accommodate smokers and nonsmokers — but on April 22, both rooms will have to be smoke-free.
“It’s something every bar in New Orleans is going to have to do,” Rogers said. “We’re in the same boat as any other bar. It was easy enough before the smoking ban. … We have the best of both worlds. We have that unique ability to do that. A lot of places don’t. Now that the city is making it mandatory… well, people will have to step out.”
“This shouldn’t be forced down our throat,” Pat O’Brien’s owner Shelly Waguespack told Gambit. “I appreciate the councilwoman’s energy and passion for this, but as businesspeople we have many other pressing things to worry about.”
Dick Puddlecote sent me a link a couple of days ago, asking:
Haven’t the local authority been saying that smoking bans won’t hurt the casino businesses? In which case, why are they delaying declaring what they will be able to fund with gambling money if they’re so confident?
And here’s Firebug in New Orleans, with Juliette Tworsey on vocals. Her blog will no doubt have news: