Smoking in bars may yet be banned in Lafayette, at least in bars with live music.
The City-Parish Council in May voted 5-4 against a smoking ban, but Councilman Don Bertrand, who voted with the majority, has helped write a revised proposal to prohibit smoking in bars with live music while granting an exemption for bars that don’t have it.
Bertrand’s switch from opposition to support could mean the passage of the more-limited smoking ban if council members who voted “yes” the first time around are OK with the changes, though some are wary.
The measure is up for a vote on Sept. 1.
Supporters of banning smoking in bars have framed the issue as one of workplace safety for bartenders, musicians and wait staff who are often forced to earn their living in the haze of secondhand smoke.
The revised proposal would offer protections for musicians and their fans but carve out an exception for business owners who feel smoking is a critical part of their business.
Bars that allow smoking would have to register with the city as a smoking establishment and could not keep the exemption if the businesses offer live entertainment.
“They can’t do both,” Bertrand said. “They have to be one or the other.”
The exemption would apply only to existing bars, not new ones.
The revised smoking ban also adds restrictions on smoking at playgrounds and public sporting events.
Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux, who proposed the initial ban, said he supports bringing the issue back up for discussion but has not decided how he will vote.
Boudreaux said the new proposal could have the unintended effect of reducing the number of music venues in the city, depending on how many bar owners decide to become smoking establishments at the expense of live entertainment.
“I haven’t made any final determination for myself, but I remain open for this as a consideration,” Boudreaux said.
Councilman Jay Castille, who backed the initial ban, said he feels uneasy about any exemptions.
“If it’s good for one, it’s good for all,” he said.
Councilmen Kevin Naquin and Brandon Shelvin joined Boudreaux and Castille in support of the smoking ban in May.
Councilmen Bertrand, Keith Patin, William Theriot, Andy Naquin and Jared Bellard voted against it.