Shreveport City Council, bowing to unsubstantiated claims by the casino industry, has decided to grant a 1 year delay of the smoking ban for casinos in Shreveport.

Citing the potential loss of jobs, casinos pulled strings of council members Grayson Boucher and Jerry Bowman who had previously voted for the ban. The passage of the smoke-free Shreveport ordinance passed 5-2 over a month ago and allowed for a 60 day period of implementation. But casinos weren’t paying attention to the people or to council proceedings. Almost immediately, they went into panic mode and tried to get a delay. Now with less than a month to go from the date of implementation, casinos, with billions of dollars in revenue (and who couldn’t be bothered to be a part of the discussion over the last few years), have successfully delayed implementation which has been hard fought and hard won in the community.

Beyond community demands for this change, another specter looms large over this decision. COVID-19 has been shown again and again to be aggravated by respiratory damage caused by smoking, including a study released just yesterday by the University of California, San Francisco which indicates that smoking nearly doubles the rate of COVID-19 progression.

“Recent evidence indicates that smoking is associated with a higher likelihood of COVID-19 progression, including increased illness severity, ICU admission or death,” said Sally Adams, lead author of the study and a specialist at University of California, San Francisco’s National Adolescent and Young Adult Health Information Center. “Smoking may have significant effects in young adults, who typically have low rates for most chronic diseases.”

So, in the midst of a pandemic, the effects of which are worsened by smoking, the council has voted to implement a change to the ordinance which flies in the face of the science available on the matter.