- Associated Press - Friday, March 18, 2016

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - An ordinance that would ban smoking in Baton Rouge’s casinos and bars is finally headed to the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1R2NB9Y) the council should vote on the ordinance in April, and it already has five of the seven votes it will need to pass.

While smoking is already banned by Louisiana law in places of employment and public venues, the local proposal is designed to “close the gap that state law left,” said Stasha Rhodes, manager for the Smoke-Free Baton Rouge campaign. For example, while most universities and colleges already have prohibited smoking on campus, ones that haven’t in Baton Rouge would be included in the ban if it is passed.

The term “smoking” would encompass more than just cigarettes. Also prohibited under the law would be cigars, cigarettes, e-cigarettes, pipes, hookah, marijuana and any other lighted or heated product made from tobacco or plants that is meant to be inhaled, regardless of whether it’s natural or synthetic.

The ordinance would mean that Baton Rouge’s casinos would have to stop allowing people to smoke while they play - which Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans claimed drove down its revenue once New Orleans instituted a smoking ban.

The Baton Rouge city-parish government partially depends on casinos to bring in money.

The city has contracts for a percentage of net gaming proceedings from L’Auberge Casino and Hotel, Belle of Baton Rouge Casino and Hotel and Hollywood Casino. The city-parish received $9.8 million from casinos last year in its $830 million budget.

None of the casinos have expressed opinions on the proposed smoking ban yet.

L’Auberge Casino and Hotel’s Vice President of Marketing Kim Ginn said late Thursday that they were reviewing the proposed ordinance internally and were not ready to publicly comment on it.

The campaign to ban smoking has been widespread across the city-parish over the past couple of months, with billboards, radio ads and other advertisements asking people to support smoke-free workplaces.

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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