Bill would further limit where smokers can light up

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Signs are spread throughout downtown Baton Rouge clearly marking the boundaries for those who plan on lighting up.

"If you're standing outside building people walk right into it so I can understand," said Jerome Harris, a Baton Rouge resident and smoker.

Harris has no problem with the existing ordinance in East Baton Rouge Parish that prohibits smoking within 25 feet of parish buildings.

"It doesn't bother me because I've stopped smoking for a year. You can understand when you stop smoking why people have a problem with the smoke and second hand because it's more noticeable when you don't smoke," added Harris.

At the Capitol, Representative Harold Ritchie walked off 25 feet from the side of the building where he has been smoking his cigarettes for 9 years.  25 feet would be the distance required for smokers to be from state office buildings in the bill that Ritchie voted for in the house.

"I think I have more experience smoking than anyone in legislature and I realize health effects of it and it's always been my side of the issue," said Ritchie.

"We had gone a little further than that to begin with and it got to be a lot of issues including dome facilities and campuses. so we just toned it back to this. it's a start but it's something that will move forward as we go into the future," said Representative Frank Hoffman, who authored the bill.

Harris and Ritchie say they have come to expect smoking laws and while legislation continues to impose restrictions they say smokers will continue to adjust.

"That's just part of it and thank goodness there are only about 25 percent of us left - the 75 percent can tell us what to do," said Ritchie.

The bill would not apply to any building built by local or parish governments, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome or the New Orleans Arena.

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