We would first like thank those members of the Lafayette City-Parish Council who voted in favor of a healthier Lafayette. We are, however, deeply disappointed in those members of the Council who rejected an ordinance that would have protected the health of thousands of Lafayette employees and residents by voting against a measure to make all bars and gaming establishments smoke-free. Unfortunately, those who rejected this important health measure have caused Lafayette to take a step back, not a bold step forward.
This is an issue of public health, and our city leaders are elected to protect the health and welfare of all whom they serve. With this action, they’ve chosen to deny the same rights to a smoke-free workplace that they themselves currently enjoy. This includes Lafayette bar and gaming facility employees, entertainers and patrons who are putting their health on the line every day just to earn a living at jobs they consider vital during tough economic times. Needless to say, this outcome is very disappointing. Nevertheless, there is tremendous support from citizens city-wide for smoke-free bars and gaming-establishments, and we implore the City-Parish Council to revisit this issue as soon as possible.
Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and at least 69 known to cause cancer. Chemicals in secondhand smoke include formaldehyde, cyanide, arsenic and carbon monoxide. There are policies in place to ban pollution of the workplace with other agents of this degree of toxicity, why not the same for secondhand smoke pollution? The simple truth is that everyone who works hard in Louisiana deserves to do so in a healthy, smoke-free workplace.
Today, we are saddened that these five elected city leaders put politics first instead of their constituents and chose not to protect the health of our workforce. Lafayette City-Parish Council members had a chance to do what was right, and pass a measure that would have had a positive health impact. Some chose to, and we are very thankful that they voted for what their constituents knew was right in the midst of philosophical differences; however, some did not. If we can’t count on those we elect to protect the public’s health, who then can we count on?
The Coalition for a Smoke-Free Louisiana