This week marks six months months since East Baton Rouge went smoke-free. City leaders and representatives from Smoke Free EBR held a news conference Wednesday to take a look at the impact of the ordinance.
Roswell Park Center, an indoor air quality research company, conducted a study in 2016. It tested 11 area bars and three local casinos that allowed smoking at the time. The average air quality in those facilities exceeded the EPA threshold for unhealthy air and two establishments exceeded hazardous levels.
A month and a half after the smoke-free ordinance took effect, researchers revisited the three casinos and three of the bars tested in the last study.
“The average level of air pollution in these establishments had improved by 98.8 percent, which is astounding,” Kathy Richard from the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation said.
In the past, some voiced opposition to the smoke-free ordinance arguing it could hurt local bars, restaurants and casinos. Councilman Matt Watson said he heard those complaints before EBR went smoke-free, but he hasn’t heard people complaining about it as of late.
“I really haven’t had a lot of outreach to me complaining about this. I think it was a lot of thinking through the ordinance and giving businesses time to adjust because this wasn’t meant to put anyone out of business. This was to mak everyone healthier when they visit a business,” Watson said.
Musician H.R. Ziifle said he spends a lot of time in local bars and restaurants playing music.
“We love playing in smoke-free environments. It helps us give our best performance, and no more raspy voice the next day or clothing that smells like smoke,” Ziifle said.
Baton Rouge is one of almost 700 smoke-free cities across the country.