State law does not require nightspots and restaurants to ban smoking. But local officials in some cities including Alexandria, Monroe and New Orleans have taken steps in recent years to go smoke-free in such places. Last year the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Grambling University in Monroe and Louisiana State University campuses in Alexandria, Eunice and Shreveport adopted smoking bans on campus.
Gradney said he doesn't expect the change to hurt his business. "I was in the process of doing it anyway," he said, adding that he had already removed most of the ashtrays from Slim's.
"You get a lot of people calling about it," he said. "Some of them won't come if there's smoke."
He understands firsthand why they'd rather not. "I quit smoking seven or eight years ago," Gradney said. "That was a hard job."
The Healthier Air for All campaign helps business owners cover the costs of re-launching as smoke-free venues, said René Stansbury, the campaign's regional manager. Smoking bans can help reduce the costs of cleanup and maintenance, including air filters, she said.
It's also good for musicians, singers and their equipment, she said, because the chemicals in cigarette smoke can damage throats, instruments and sound systems over time.
Then there are the lungs of everyone who spends time in a venue — entertainers, bartenders, waitstaff, kitchen employees and customers. "Spending 30 minutes breathing second-hand smoke is equal to smoking a cigarette yourself," Stansbury said. Using that information, in the late 1990s nonsmoking flight attendants who worked before the airlines banned smoking on board sued the tobacco companies over their illnesses and won.
The smoke-free nightspot campaign isn't designed to chase anyone away from a good time, Stansbury said.
"We encourage smokers and nonsmokers to come out," she said. "We're just asking smokers to step outside. Because everyone has a right to clean air."
Want to go?
What: The Breathe Easy Tour with Wayne & Same Ol' 2-Step
When: Friday, 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Where: Slim's Y-Ki-Ki, 8471 Hwy. 182, Opelousas
Information: Call Slim's at 337-942-6242 or go online to healthierairforall.org.
- No cover charge and no smoking
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