Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in Louisiana. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association in Louisiana calls for the following actions to be taken by our elected officials:
- Strengthen the existing statewide smokefree law to include bar and casino worker protections;
- Ensure smokefree protections for all bars and casino workers in municipalities throughout Louisiana; and
- Sustain tobacco prevention and cessation funding.
Tobacco prevention and control legislation was once again not a priority for the members of the Louisiana Legislature in 2017. The Louisiana Legislature once again introduced bills to raise the tax on cigarettes and electronic smoking devices. The Lung Association was unable to support these bills due to the low, insignificant tax increase amounts that would result in no public health benefit. House Bills 118 and 271 did not pass. With leadership from Representative Hoffman, the Louisiana Legislature passed Act 351 to prohibit the use of all tobacco products, including electronic smoking devices and smokeless tobacco products, on school property.
Although there continues to be a residual 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 Lafayette City Parish became the 11th city in Louisiana to implement strong smokefree air protections in all workplaces and public places. The Lafayette City Parish passed the ordinance in April 2017 with successful implementation on August 1, 2017. The East Baton Rouge Parish passed an ordinance to protect all residents and workers in the city, including all bar and casino workers, from the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure on August 9, 2017. The ordinance will go into effect on June 1, 2018.
In 2018, 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, including a comprehensive statewide smokefree air law. 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 22.8 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.