In addition to the Super Bowl this week, there is another kick off of sorts. It is the first tobacco show of the year. Held in Vegas it is Tobacco Plus Expo and mostly geared to small stores and convenience shops. There will be some premium cigars there, but my guess is there will be a lot of vaping stuff as well and I mean a lot. It will be interesting to see the mood of the show and see what the year may have in store.
Cloudy New Orleans
At least this first show is not in doubt. The big one is. Last week, the New Orleans City council passed a smoking ban. This is a cause of concern because New Orleans is set to host the annual cigar trade show this summer. If it were my decision, I’d move it. Why should tobacconists give New Orleans ANY money? But the IPCPR says on its Facebook page
This legislation passed unanimously with favorable amendments. As amended, the legislation will not impact the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailer Association’s (IPCPR) local members or our 83rd Annual Convention & International Trade Show. The ability to smoke in cigar bars, the convention center, and in facilities being used for private events is protected by the amendment.
The favorable amendments are a handful of exemptions that could easily be taken away. The big one is that it allows smoking at the trade show on the floor. The IPCPR is playing for a tie not a win. Glynn Loope of the Cigar Rights of America isn’t buying it. He says this smoking ban is a first step and he realizes the other side goes for incrementalism. In 2007, Louisiana passed a state wide smoking ban for restaurants and many workplaces but exemptions were made for Casinos and bars. Now, New Orleans is taking those exemptions away.
The original city legislation had it so you couldn’t smoke within 25 feet of a door, but that was lowered to 5 feet when the council figured out that would effectively ban smoking on Bourbon Street. (By the way this goes into effect AFTER Mardi Gras.)
As for enforcement, it won’t be the cops giving tickets as originally planned. They already have their hands full. With Mardi Gras coming up the locals are worried about crime. In the French Quarter, there are signs telling people to travel in large groups because of the city’s violence. The NOPD is understaffed.
The force has lost about 500 officers since Katrina struck in 2005 and it is now down to about 1,150 — far fewer than the 1,600 that Landrieu would like. As few as 250 officers were found to be on patrol duty and responding to calls for help in May 2013, a city inspector general report found last May.
“I have been to some roll calls where there is one cop, two cops,” said Michael Glasser, president of the Police Association of New Orleans, a police union.
The Mayor, Mitch Landrieu, wanted the council to delay action so his office could study the issue. They didn’t want to wait.
Harrah’s tried to tell the council that they were looking at a 20 percent drop in revenues because of the casino smoking ban. The supporters say the ban will bring more business to the casinos. They always say that. In December, the Louisiana State Police, which oversees gambling, projected a $104-million dollar loss due to a smoking ban. I hope this goes like Atlantic City where similar arguments were made and ignored. When Atlantic City banned smoking in casinos, it lasted about a week once the city saw the revenue drop.
Says Glynn Loope, “every job that is lost in New Orleans lies at the feet of Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell who pushed this bill.”