1. Ensure smokefree protections for all bars and casino workers in municipalities throughout Louisiana;
2. Strengthen the existing statewide smokefree law to include bar and casino worker protections; and
3. Sustain tobacco prevention and cessation funding.
Members of the Louisiana Legislature once again disregarded the opportunity to pass legislation that would prohibit smoking in all public places and workplaces, including important protections for bar and casino workers during the 2016 legislative session. The Louisiana Legislature did increase the cigarette tax by twenty-two cents, the second cigarette tax increase within two years during an early 2016 special session of the legislature. The increase raised the cigarette tax from $0.86 to $1.08 per pack, but is unlikely to have any public health benefit. Tobacco control partners advocated for an increase of $1.25 per pack of cigarettes, which would have had a substantial public health benefit.
Although there is a lack of support in the Louisiana Legislature for a statewide smokefree law, there is support throughout local municipalities for public health protections from secondhand smoke. The East Baton Rouge Parish introduced an ordinance to protect all residents and workers in the city, including all bar and casino workers, however, the ordinance passage was unsuccessful in April 2016. The Smokefree East Baton Rouge campaign is still committed to educating on the dangers of secondhand smoke with the ultimate goal of protecting all workers and residents from secondhand smoke exposure in workplaces and public places.
In 2017, the American Lung Association in Louisiana will join our tobacco control partners to educate state legislators about the health and economic benefits of strong tobacco control policies. In order to meet the bold goals in Louisiana, state legislators will need to recognize the health and economic burden of tobacco use and the fact that Louisiana still has 21.9 percent of the adult population who smoke with $1.89 billion spent in annual health care costs in Louisiana directly caused by smoking. The Lung Association in Louisiana will continue to work with partners in the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Louisiana to ensure successful passage and preservation of comprehensive local smokefree ordinances.