BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A show of support for a completely smoke free East Baton Rouge Parish from clergy members, health advocates, musicians and residents preceded a new proposed ordinance now on the desk of the EBR Metro Council.
The ordinance would extend the city's smoking ban to include bars and casinos. It is co-authored by half the council.
"We want you the public to pick up the phone and call your council member and tell them to support this important ordinance," said Councilwoman Donna Collins-Lewis.
A campaign for a smoke free EBR launched in January. The team behind it said the ban would protect the health of thousands of employees in the service and gaming industry.
"It is unjust and unfair to all the workers and customers who are subjected to deadly second hand smoke," said supporter Fr. Richard Anders.
However, the expanded smoke ban does not have everyone breathing easy. Pinnacle Entertainment, the parent company of L'Auberge Casino in Baton Rouge, said the city wide ban would send customers to smoke friendly casinos elsewhere.
Pinnacle spokesman Troy Stremming said that means Baton Rouge would lose visitors and money.
He said similar bans in states like Colorado and Delaware as well as in the city of New Orleans have resulted in casino revenues d ropping by 20 percent, sometimes more.
"It's important that we do protect that tax revenue, jobs, as well as the other vendors that we utilize and maintain a level playing field over our competitors," said Stremming.
Stremming also points out that many areas of L'Auberge are designated smoke free, and the casino uses high tech systems to improve air quality.
However, the Smoke Free East Baton Rouge supporters said that's not enough to protect worker's health.
"They're trying to make a living for their families. They shouldn't have to get sick just to do that. It's not about the money, it's about the people," said Lydia Kuykendal with the American Cancer Society.
The Metro Council is expected to take up the smoke ban on April 13.