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Kathleen McLeod signs a blue card indicating her support of a ban on smoking in local bars at a Smoke Free Rally before a meeting of the Lafayette City Parish Council to vote on the issue on Tuesday, April 18, 2017, at City Hall.

ADVOCATE STAFF PHOTO BY BRAD BOWIE --

As a former casino worker, I know firsthand the real effects of allowing smoking in these venues. I was a cocktail waitress on the night shift at one of the Baton Rouge casinos and, frankly, loved working with the staff and interacting with the public. Like most individuals in my position, I enjoyed seeing customers win and having a good time. However, the last thing a waitress wants to do is serve in a section full of smokers.

I am not kidding when I say I was assaulted with smoke every night. We were trained to not sweep the smoke away or complain directly to the customers. Being exposed to second-hand smoke every single time I went into work became a legitimate concern for me, and I was forced to look for another job.

Those who support smoking in casinos will use my story in defense of their abhorrent behavior. I was lucky. My position was temporary, and I had other options. However, many of my friends and former co-workers are not so lucky.

Second-hand smoke causes more than 7,300 lung cancer deaths among U.S. nonsmokers each year. It makes me sad to think that my former co-workers may someday be a part of that statistic. Baton Rouge residents should encourage their council member to support the proposed smoke-free ban.

LeighAnna Kingvalsky

Miss Black Louisiana U.S. Ambassador 2017

New Orleans