In a massive shift in public health policy, the City of Shreveport has passed Ordinance No. 51 of 2020 which provides updates regarding smoking, smoking devices, and vapes. The ordinance prohibits smoking of any kind in any park or playground as well as bars and casinos. An exception has been made for hookah bars and cigar bars specifically. The ordinance will take effect in 60 days.

The journey to a smoke-free city began in 2006 with the Louisiana Smoke-Free Air Act. The legislation, which went into effect January 1, 2007, banned smoking in most public places and workplaces including all restaurants with or without attached bar, but exempted standalone bars, bars with a food license, casinos, and other smoking-specific businesses.

Several attempts to expand that ban have cropped up over the years, including a statewide initiative, Healthier Air For All, in 2014 and continued conversations in 2015.

In 2018, members of the community, including Madison Poche and Candice Battiste, began working with statewide organizers such as Louisiana Public Health Institute and American Heart Association – Louisiana to discuss how smoke free ordinances were rolled out in other cities in Louisiana. Citizens worked with the previous Shreveport city council’s public safety committee and also had cursory conversations with Mayor Lo Walker in Bossier to determine feasibility of a multi-city effort as had been accomplished in Monroe and West Monroe.

In 2019, the newly-elected city council began a new dialogue and explored the potential change including taking meetings with government officials in Bossier City to assess the possibility of matching ordinances, according to persons familiar with the meetings. Local and state organizers continued dialogues with elected officials. This included Mayor Adrian Perkins, who became a supporter of expanding the smoking ban. A smoke-free awareness event was held at Strange Brew in partnership with Tobacco Free Louisiana. We penned an article in support of a city-wide smoking ban in coordination with that event.

On May 22, 2020, the smoke-free ordinance appeared on the city council agenda for first reading during the May 26, 2020 council meeting. The ordinance was sponsored by John Nickelson (District C) and Grayson Boucher (District D). That original ordinance excluded casinos. The measure was amended during the council meeting on June 9, 2020 to strike the exclusion for casinos — a change championed by councilwoman LeVette Fuller (District B) as a demand for equality in all Shreveport workplaces — along with a second amendment to extend smoke-free areas near hospitals. Both amendments passed on a 4-3 vote. The final amended ordinance passed by a vote of 5 to 2. Council members James Green (District F) and Tabatha Taylor (District A) voted against the comprehensive ordinance.

Shreveport has now joined Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Bogalusa, New Orleans, Hammond, Sulphur, Cheneyville, Monroe City, West Monroe, Woodworth, and Alexandria in banning smoking indoors.

Congratulations, Shreveport. You just made history.