BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Air quality in Baton Rouge bars and casinos has improved by nearly 99 percent since the city banned smoking in June, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and the members of the Smoke-Free EBR Coalition said Wednesday.
Researchers from New York-based Roswell Park Cancer Institute conducted air quality studies in 11 Baton Rouge bars and three casinos in 2016 and found the average air quality “exceeded the EPA’s threshold for unhealthy air." Two venues were considered “hazardous.”
After the ban, the researchers returned to Baton Rouge and conducted a random test on three of the bars and the same three casinos for at least 30 minutes in each venue, using a special tool that detects a deadly particle emitted by burning cigarettes. Each location now has “good” air quality, the highest rating given by the EPA.
“A smoke-free parish is a large factor to making Baton Rouge healthier for everyone and it’s something that all of our partners worked very hard to accomplish,” Broome said.
The coalition noted the benefit to casino workers, bartenders, and performers, in addition to average patrons.
There is still some concern from the gaming industry that the smoking ban is partially responsible for a drop in Baton Rouge casino revenues, although the city has not improved on prior-year earnings any month since August of 2017. Some coalition members say they believe businesses are benefiting from the ban because patrons don’t have to brave hazy dives and bad smells.
The study coincides with the six-month anniversary of the East Baton Rouge Parish smoke-free ordinance.