Smoke ban begins Jan. 2
The New Year is a time of celebration, new beginnings and change. For smokers in Monroe, West Monroe and Ouachita Parish, this change will mean stepping outside of bars and bingo halls for a smoke. And restaurant patios will also have new rules.
If you smoke, you already know there're only certain places you can legally light-up. And in Ouachita Parish that list is going to get shorter.
Over in Downtown Monroe, River and Rail Cantina serves food until a 10 p.m., but stays open much later.
The bar is positioned between the restaurant and an open patio. However, because of the new law, the partitions will go up on Jan. 2, for good.
General Manager Max Macadam said this will take some getting use to. Camel Filters
"We are going to comply with the law. And we hope people aren't going to be too inconvenienced about it," Macadam said.
The inside of bars, bingo halls and restaurants will be entirely smoke free, but Jennifer Haneline with the public health institute says patios are still a gray area.
"In the parish and West Monroe, people can still smoke on patios as long as food and beverages are not served. If they are served those are also protected work spaces. In Monroe, people can still smoke on patios as long as windows are not open that allow smoke to travel back into the work place," Haneline said.
Even though many spoke out for, and against, the new ordinances when they were being decided, Macadam said he believes attitudes about smoking have changed
"People are use to not smoking in public now. They are getting more and more use to it. We have a beautiful patio and people like to come out here, but I don't see that much smoking out here anyway," Macadam said.
So whether you are for or against the new ordinances, one thing is for sure, the New Year will bring cleaner air in Ouachita Parish.