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City Council unanimously approved a smoking ban for all New Orleans bars and casinos yesterday, but...there's always a but... amendments, impending tweaks, and some issues have arisen, all of which you probably have questions about.  Based on the coverage from GambitThe Times-PicNOLA Defender, and The Advocate, here's what you need to know right now. These stipulations will go into effect in 90 days (from when Mitch Landrieu signs the bill):

  • Smoking AND vaping is banned INSIDE all bars (and casinos) in New Orleans.
  • Smoking on bar patios, courtyard, balconies, and outdoor areas is still allowed.
  • You don't have to stand 25 feet away from a bar to smoke. Alex Woodward reports that you must stand five feet form a business entrance, but Richard Rainey states that an amendment from council member James Gray's successfully eliminated all distances.
  • The smoking ban WILL NOT be enforced by NOPD or NOLA Patrol, but by city agencies, including the Department of Health and more.
  • Anyone will be able to call 311 to report smoking in bars.
  • Under the law, bar employees aren't forced to stop patrons from smoking or vaping, that's the manager or bar owner's duty.
  • Fines for smoking in a bar start at $50 and go up from there depending on the number of times you get caught in a given year.
  • Bars that allow smoking or vaping risk could lose special permits/licenses.
  • Places where cigarette smoking is still permitted:  Vape shops, streets and sidewalks, Parks (except Lafayette Square and the Cancer Survivors Plaza on Loyola Avenue), public events including Mardi Gras balls, outdoor shopping malls, parking lots and garages, and vape/smoking conventions.
  • Places where non-cigarette smoking is permitted: Pre-existing cigar bars (cigars only), pre-existing hookah lounges (hookah only).