SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Some Shreveport City Council members are working to clear the air.
An ordinance introduced at Tuesday’s council meeting would snuff out cigarettes and vaping devices from the city’s bars.
But, the ban has one big exception and that’s firing up bar owners.
“It’s like you keep picking on the small guy,” said Tim Huck, owner of Sand Bar. “Go ahead and kick him while he’s down.”
First came COVID-19, shutting down the bar’s business for two months, putting profits at a negative net level.
It’s now open at limited capacity.
Huck said amendments to Shreveport’s Smokefree Air Act could slash his sales even more by pushing people to casinos.
“If we’re doing it for health purposes, my employees’ and my customers’ health is a higher priority than the casinos’ customers’ health?” said Huck. “Or, I’m the smaller, easier target and there’s no reason to pick on the big guys.”
The measure allows exceptions for bars in or operated by casinos or gaming operations.
“Every bar I know of in Shreveport is locally owned and operated,” said Huck. “They’re gonna try to hurt the local guys while allowing the national guys, the guys who take all of the profit and carry it back to where they live.”
Councilmen Grayson Boucher and John Nickelson sponsored the measure. Boucher provided NBC 6/Fox 33 a statement:
“Our goal is to make Shreveport a better place to live and work. I feel this ordinance is a good start to making Shreveport a smoke-free environment. The vote is in two weeks and I look forward to a productive dialogue with the citizens of Shreveport over that period.”
At Tuesday’s virtual city council meeting, messages from residents showed support for the measure.
“Service industry employees and musicians should have clean air to breathe at work,” read Councilwoman LeVette Fuller from a submitted statement from a Shreveport resident.
“Public smoking should not be allowed,” said Clayton Bush. “You’re infringing on other people whenever you smoke. You have secondhand smoke and stuff. The only thing you ever hear about smoking is cancer or how it causes cancer.”
But, Huck said he’s not against stopping smoking.
“I’m against separating us and allowing them to have another unfair advantage,” he said.
Hoping to keep local bar business from going up in smoke.
Shreveport City Council is expected to vote on the measure at their meeting June 9.
If passed, the ordinance would also ban smoking in parks and playgrounds.