With smoking ban in bars

Smoking in bars by State

Starting Wednesday, it is illegal to smoke in New Orleans’s bars and casinos, ending a noir-ish tradition in a city not known for its limitation on human vices. The city’s new law goes beyond Louisiana’s 2006 statewide ban on smoking in restaurants and workplaces and is the most restrictive municipal ban in the state. Although other towns ban smoking in bars, New Orleans is the first in Louisiana to prohibit smoking in casinos.

New Orleans’s new rules are only possible because Louisiana, when it passed the statewide smoking ban, lifted a restriction that had prevented cities from adding more restrictive laws of their own.

According to the group Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, which maintains a database of statewide and local smoking laws, 13 states have pre-emption laws that prevent local governments from following New Orleans’s example and imposing restrictions greater than the state’s. Seven of these states have fairly robust smoking bans, but four have much looser statewide restrictions while limiting local attempts to institute new bans. The other two states have narrow pre-emptions, restricting only a few categories of municipal law. Of these two states, one has a wide-ranging statewide ban, and the other allows smoking in more places.

Here’s how those states address local smoking bans:

States with Limits on Local Governments and Lower Statewide Restrictions

  • Oklahoma: total pre-emption of local smoking bans, except for public outdoor areas; smoking allowed in bars, restaurants and workplaces if certain ventilation requirements are met.
  • Pennsylvania: pre-emption of local laws related to workplaces and public places, with some exemptions for Philadelphia; statewide ban for workplaces.
  • Tennessee: total pre-emption, except for public buildings, schools and airports; some statewide restrictions (schools, museums, etc.), but smoking is permitted in age-restricted bars and patios.
  • Virginia: pre-emption of all local smoking laws passed after 1/1/90; smoking allowed in bars, restaurants and workplaces, subject to some ventilation requirements

States with Limits on Local Governments and Restrictive State Laws

  • Connecticut: total pre-emption of smoking legislation; statewide ban for restaurants and bars.
  • Florida: total pre-emption of smoking legislation; statewide ban for workplaces, restaurants and gambling venues.
  • Michigan: pre-emption of local smoking laws related to restaurants and bars; statewide ban on workplaces, restaurants and bars.
  • New Hampshire: total pre-emption of smoking legislation; statewide ban for restaurants and bars.
  • North Carolina: pre-emption of all local smoking laws passed after 10/15/93, with several modest exceptions; statewide ban for restaurants and bars.
  • South Dakota: total pre-emption; statewide ban for workplaces, restaurants, bars and gambling venues.
  • Utah: total pre-emption, except for public outdoor areas; statewide ban for workplaces, restaurants and bars.

States with Some Flexibility for Local Governments and Lower Statewide Restrictions

  • Wisconsin: pre-emption of laws related to private outdoor areas; statewide ban for indoor workplaces, restaurants and bars; smoking permitted on patios and other open-air areas.

States with Some Flexibility for Local Governments and Restrictive State Laws

  • Nebraska: pre-emption of laws related to cigar bars; statewide ban for workplaces, restaurants, bars and gambling venues.

If New Orleans’s disappointed smokers want to find a new home, they should start canvassing bars in Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia. Or, maybe, just move one or two towns over in their home state and start lobbying. Liz Williams, a project manager for Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, said New Orleans’s new law means there is a “strong potential” for Louisiana to introduce a new pre-emption law, in order to make it difficult for other cities to follow the Big Easy’s example.

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