Harrah’s New Orleans Loses Smoking-Ban Exemption

Minutes after the New Orleans city council unanimously approved a city-wide smoking ban, Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey offered a new ordinance allowing smoking in half of Harrah's Casino. Ramsey said she believed she was acting on behalf of Mayor Mitch Landrieu (l.), who disavowed her actions. Ramsey subsequently pulled the proposed Harrah's exemption.

Citing “a misunderstanding,” New Orleans City Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey recently killed her proposal to grant Harrah’s Casino an exemption from the newly passed city-wide smoking ban. Minutes after the city council unanimously passed the anti-smoking ordinance, Ramsey offered a new ordinance allowing patrons to smoke in half of Harrah’s property, and also removed “places of employment” and “tobacco retailers’ from the banned areas.

Ramsey’s Chief of Staff Kara Johnson said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration asked her to offer the changes. However, Landrieu denied that. Press Secretary Brad Howard said, “The mayor has long been a supporter of public health measures like this one. As you know, there were nearly 100 amendments on the day of the vote and the city’s legal department and enforcement agencies are conducting a careful review of what was passed. The ordinance you referenced was not by request of the administration.” Landrieu will sign the bill after city lawyers finish their review, and it will take effect within 90 days.

Johnson would not say why Ramsey believed she was acting on Landrieu’s behalf.

Harrah’s fought hard against the smoking ban, which prohibits smoking and using electronic cigarettes and nicotine vaporizers in gambling halls in New Orleans.