Councilman considering smoking ban in Baton Rouge


The Draft House downtown is one of newest additions to the Baton Rouge bar scene. Like many of the newer bars, there's one thing missing: a haze of smoke billowing from the end of a cigarette.

"You have happier employees and the customers ultimately don't want to be in a smoky environment," said part owner and city councilman John Delgado.

EBR Councilman John Delgado is part owner of three bars, including The Draft House. All three are smoke free.

If the new smoking ban in bars and casinos proves successful in New Orleans, Delgado says it's only a matter of time before Baton Rouge, or even the whole state, follows.

"We are considering doing something similar in Baton Rouge that would only affect bars, but there is a lot to consider there," said Delgado.

When it comes to smoking bans the financial impact and the rights of business owners is always a concern. For The Bulldog bar, where smoking is allowed, general manager Remi DeMatteo says keeping customers happy is more important.

"Here we've been reluctant because we have a lot of loyal smoking guest and nonsmoking guest so that puts us in a very odd place," said DeMatteo.

However, The Bulldog's sister location in New Orleans supported the city's new ban, and DeMatteo says his bar would do the same in Baton Rouge.

"We're kind of looking for our council to take the lead. If they were to push for it and it passed, we'd be ready for it," said the general manager.

Who pointed out that The Bulldog's patio could easily accommodate smokers after a ban.

The tone is a little different at Churchill's, a Baton Rouge bar built on wine and cigars.

"I think anytime the government is trying to tell private businesses what to do that it's not a good thing," said owner Mark Dennis.

The New Orleans ban exempts cigar bars like Churchill's because a significant amount of their revenue comes from the sale of cigars. Delgado speculates that any ban in Baton Rouge would likely do the same. Even so, talk of any regulation is concerning to Dennis.

"You have the ability to go to certain places where you want to go and experience what you want to experience," said Dennis.

Delgado emphasized that there are no immediate plans to proposal any smoking bans. Currently in Baton Rouge, state law prohibits smoking in restaurants. For more information on efforts to ban smoking throughout Louisiana, click here.

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