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Louisiana Senate Committee Again Approves Casino Smoking Ban

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Senator Rob Marionneaux has been the leader in Louisiana's legislature when it comes to ensuring the health of its residents. Several years ago, Marionneaux led the charge to have smoking banned in all public places. The ban passed, but casinos and bars were exempted from the legislation.

Now, for the second straight year, Marionneaux is attempting to remove those exceptions. The Senate health & Welfare Committee passed a bill this week that calls for the smoking ban to take place indoors throughout the state, including the casinos and the bars.

Although the Committee passed the bill, it still faces long odds as it moves towards the full Senate, and then possibly on to the House. Lawmakers have deep ties to the gaming industry, and casino executives believe that a smoking ban would be devastating to the state's revenue.

Understanding that the complete ban would be hard-pressed to pass legislature, Marionneaux also proposed a separate bill that was passed by the Committee that would ban smoking in bars, but allow smoking to continue in gambling establishments. The goal may to take one step at a time towards a complete ban.

Casino workers and patrons of the casinos have been successful in other states when lobbying lawmakers to protect their health. Second-hand smoke accounts for thousands of deaths each year, and as the country is becoming more health conscious, smoking bans have become more commonplace.

The Louisiana gaming industry is one of the top in the nation. A recent study done by bizjournals showed New Orleans to be the number two gaming destination in the US behind Las Vegas. The state of Louisiana has recovered nicely from the devastation left behind by Hurricane Katrina, and the casino industry appears headed back to their pre-Katrina and pre-recession levels.

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