After months of heated discussion about the new ordinance banning smoking (and vaping) in nearly every bar in New Orleans, the law is set to take effect at midnight tonight, and the city has launched a web page to explain it all.
The group Smoke Free NOLA will celebrate and take a victory lap with a free "Smokefree Kickoff" free music show tomorrow night (April 23) at Le Bon Temps Roule with Paul Sanchez, Deacon John and other musicians.
Here's what you need to know before tomorrow:
• No smoking or vaping in bars or casinos. Period. Yes, that includes Harrah's New Orleans and the New Orleans Fair Grounds. No, they're not happy about it.
• Unless it's a properly permitted "cigar bar" or "hookah bar." But you can't smoke cigarettes or vape in there, either, because ... uh... because.
• You can smoke in convention facilities during Mardi Gras balls. Why? Because Mardi Gras.
• You can smoke on a patio or in a courtyard if the bar permits it.
• Harrah's and a coalition of French Quarter bars filed a lawsuit last week attempting to get a restraining order that would have put a halt to the ordinance. Their petition was denied, but the case is set to be heard in Civil District Court May 21.
• The law will be enforced by the New Orleans Health Department, not the New Orleans Police Department.
• Businesses will be fined $100 for a first offense; it goes up from there. Smokers will be fined $50 for a first offense.
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