Monday, July 28, 2014
Smoke-free entertainment venues in Louisiana: will Shreveport join the vanguard?
Bears on Fairfield recently featured Papa Mali and Brady Blade, Jr, in a wailing show that was unusual by omission: no one in the crowded bar was smoking.
While it had support from New Orleans radio station WWOZ, the initiative for a smoke-free evening came from www.healthierairforall.org. To sweeten the no-smoking pitch, WWOZ gave away shirts and stickers.
Across the southern part of the Bayou State the smoke-free movement is gaining ground. Lafayette and New Orleans are leading Baton Rouge, it would seem. Btw, Fat Harry's, St Charles Ave, is listed as a non-smoking tavern; can that be true?
The number of events listed as smoke-free in the decadent Crescent City is surprising: from the ReBirth Brass Band at Howlin' Wolf to the Charmaine Neville Band at Snug Harbor, you can go from music venue to venue and skip the smoke.
Will this movement ever be viable in Shreveport? It is primarily designed to aid the men and women who serve drinks and food and make music in a state where those activities are a huge factor in tourism.
Chase Boytim of Bears on Fairfield says he would be open to more smoke-free evenings. For the moment the only venue in Shreveport listed as smoke-free is On The Rocks, the lobby bar at the Hilton Convention Center. New Orleans lists over 100 venues as non-smoking. Baton Rouge has 34. All bars in Alexandria, Monroe and West Monroe are described as "100% smoke-free."
In regards the health of Bayou State citizens, entities such as Blue Cross are promoting prevention as a strategy that makes more health sense and gives more economic advantage than hospitalization and late-development medication. And a new generation is learning a new way: state legislative Act 211, passed and signed, prohibits smoking on all public college campuses.
Most Louisianians were raised to believe that smoking is a birth right. And they believe that smoking in bars is an inviolable item that is specifically protected by the constitution.
Is that attitude negotiable? Is Louisiana capable of the reflection and debate that might lead to an alternative to smoke-filled taverns? If not, then Shreveport is capital of the contrarians. If yes, the city might experiment a bit more with "smoke-free" as an incentive to hit the town. Photos by M.C. Rollo of the Papa Mali gig.