Shreveport City Council votes to repeal smoking ban in casinos

Now, smoking will be allowed in 75% of the gaming space in casinos.
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 6:13 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - The Shreveport City Council voted Tuesday, May 23 to repeal a smoking ban for casinos.

Starting June 1, 25% of gaming floors in casinos will be designated as non-smoking areas, while smoking will be allowed in the other 75%.

A number of people spoke out at the council meeting against the repeal, but many also expressed their support.

The smoke-free ordinance that was repealed on May 23 was implemented nearly two years ago. Several people voiced their opposition to the repeal of the smoke-free ordinance, while others believe it should have been left as is.

”How much is my life worth? Secondhand smoke kills. We’re back here again because you’re putting casino lies before our health,” said a casino worker.

“I’m just here to say that I agree with the repeal of the smoking ban,” said a local casino worker.

The council voted 4-2, with one absent. Here’s a breakdown of the vote:

  • Tabatha Taylor, District A- yes
  • Gary Brooks, District B- yes
  • Jim Taliaferro, District C- no
  • Grayson Boucher, District D- no
  • Dr. Alan Jackson, District E- absent
  • James Green, District F- yes
  • Ursula Bowman, District G- yes

“I think it’s a step backward to try to repeal that act or that ordinance. Now we’re starting from square one all over again. Once we allow something like this to take hold, I believe it could be just a matter of time before others are going to let them do it. What about us?” said Councilman Jim Taliaferro.

“We believe dedicating 25 percent of the gaming floor to non-smoking is a reasonable and achievable compromise. For our employees, we’ll happily accommodate requests to work in non-smoking sections, sections staffing level allows,” said a spokesperson from Bally’s Casinos.

Several organizations sent out statements Tuesday evening expressing concern about this decision.

“Casino employees and patrons are in desperate need of these lifesaving health protections,” said Feamula Bradley, Region 7 manager, the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living. “Breaking their promise to their constituents and putting Shreveport’s casino workers back into smoke-filled work environments after nearly two years of workplace protections sends a loud and clear message that their health is irrelevant. The council, and the casinos, know that secondhand smoke exposure is hazardous to worker health. They know it triggers heart attacks, asthma attacks, and contributes to respiratory illness and even lung cancer. Yet, they are still willing to sacrifice their largely female and Black American workforce for a perceived competitive edge.”

The ban was first put in place on Aug. 1, 2021, making Shreveport the 30th municipality in Louisiana to enact such a ban.

“It is shameful that the Shreveport City Council has voted to repeal the smoke-free workplace ordinance that was put in place to protect casino workers from having to breathe secondhand smoke on a daily basis. With this vote, the council has broken a promise to the hundreds of frontline workers who are the backbone of this industry. We stand with casino workers and our partners in Shreveport who fought against this ordinance and remain committed to reversing this ill-advised decision because no one should be forced to choose between their health and their paycheck. Councilors who voted for this ordinance today will be held accountable by the very casino workers whose lives they are putting in harm’s way,” said a statement from Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights.

Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) also released a statement about the city council’s decision.

“Just as casino workers across the country are building a movement to protect their health, the Shreveport City Council shamelessly betrayed their own local employees. The casino industry’s old, tired arguments are failing them everywhere that workers stand up for their wellbeing. Their lobbyists had nothing left to do but use their bought-and-paid-for politicians to pull the rug out from underneath workers in a safe, healthy and profitable environment and steal that back from them. Our worker-led movement has done nothing but grow since it began and you can bet that the next community of dealers to rise up will be Shreveport’s,” the statement reads in part.

But others expressed their support of the repeal at Tuesday afternoon’s city council meeting.