As a musician based in New York City who appears several times a year in New Orleans, I am encouraged by all of the attention that smoke-free bars have been getting. As a longtime music professional, I know firsthand what a difference it can make for me to get to go to work every day in an environment with smoke-free air.

Without a doubt, smoke-free air policies are good for health and great for business.

This can easily be seen by the number of new establishments going smoke-free every day throughout Louisiana, and I can attest to the successes throughout the Northeast in states that have chosen to go smoke-free.

The legendary Bottom Line in New York City, where Springsteen made his debut years ago, was the first to go smoke-free, years before any of the other restaurants were required by law to do so.

When New York City restaurants finally went smoke-free, there was some fear that they were going to lose business and suffer from a loss in revenue.

That did not happen and, in some cases, restaurant owners and staff found that they actually made more money.

Similarly, smoke-free bars in New York City did not suffer. I would assume the same would hold true for Louisiana.

All those people who stayed away because of the smoke can start coming out again.

I am much happier and healthier working in a workplace where I do not have to put my health on the line nightly for a paycheck. I hope Louisiana will follow so many other states and enact smoke-free legislation.

Unfortunately, there are still so many service industry employees and musicians, both in Louisiana bars and gaming facilities, who have to go to work in smoke-filled environments.

If all restaurants can go smoke-free successfully, so can bars and gaming facilities. Now is the time to extend the same protection of smoke-free air at work every day to everyone, with no exceptions. It is good for health and good for business.

Christine Ohlman

featured vocalist,

The Saturday Night Live Band

New Orleans