Smoking Ban to Take Effect Statewide January 1

The Louisiana Clean Air Act goes into effect midnight January 1.  Smokers in some restaurants will, by law, have to snuff out their cigarettes or face fines -- but it's not just about restaurants! WAFB's Jim Shannon reports its all buildings that the public has access to that fall under the new law, with a few exceptions.

If you're not sure if you can smoke in your favorite watering hole after the first of the year, just light up and you'll find out fast. Bartenders and other workers will be keeping an eye open for would-be smokers. At Pastime, smokers have lit up for the last 61 years without a second thought.

"We're gonna have to hire another bartender to work to replace the one who has to go out and smoke," says Pastime's Randy Wesley.

Two of the three establishments Jack Warner has interest in will not have to go smokeless because the majority of their sales are from alcohol, not food. But he sees a trend that's not likely to be smoke friendly.

"All in all, I think in a year or two you're gonna see every place be a non smoking place," he speculates. "Bars and restaurants alike."

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 22% of all adults in Louisiana smoke. Louisiana joins 16 other states which now have a non-smoking policy in effect.

"It includes all places of employment," explains Courtney Tatman of the LA Restaurant Association. "People have taken this out on the restaurant bill but it's not just restaurants; it's any place of employment. Restaurants are included so if you're in an indoors restaurant or places of employment, no smoking after the first of the year."

If you decide to light up despite the new law you'll face a $25 fine the first time, $50 the second time, and $100 every time after that. Bars and restaurants can also get fined and their maximum fine is much higher: up to $500 for a third offense.

Reporter: Jim Shannon