NEW ORLEANS – Wednesday is the first day of the city's new law forbidding smoking inside almost all public buildings here in the city.
Supporters of the new law let their message be heard loud and clear with a big display downtown.
The city knew everyone wouldn't be on board with the new ordinance with pushback from many businesses and the tobacco industry and that's why they are hitting the ground running on trying to educate the public on the new ordinance.
City leaders and advocates for a smoke-free New Orleans gathered outside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Wednesday morning to unveil their new banner and larger-than-life display on the side of one of the towers downtown.
City health officials said the new ban will limit the public's exposure to second-hand smoke and this boiled down to a health issue, not a political one.
The ban would stop customers from smoking in bars and restaurants as well as buildings owned and operated by the city or state.
Supporters of the ordinance say many employees who worked at these establishments didn't like the smoke on the job.
"One thing we hear from casino workers, not only here in New Orleans but from other places, is that they love their job but hate the smoke," said Cynthia Hallett, executive director of Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights. "So today is symbolic; it's Earth Day. We have cleaner air in New Orleans casinos and bars."
"Today is about celebration," said LaToya Cantrell, the councilwoman who authored the ordinance, "and it's also about thanking all of the leaders who stood with city leadership, all of our partner organizations. It could not have been done without you."
To help curb the habit, according to the New Orleans Advocate, Harrah's employees handed out lollipops to casino patrons just after midnight.