Smoking Ban Controversy

The Louisiana Smoke Free Air Act went into effect last week. It basically outlaws smoking in public places and places of employment. The actual law is nine pages long, and many business owners aren't exactly sure where they fall in those nine pages. We talked to several owners who say they've received different interpretations from different authorities. One of the main points of confusion involves alcohol licenses. Bars, casinos, and retail tobacco businesses are exempt from the ban. But according to the law, restaurants serving alcohol are supposed to prohibit smoking and remove all ashtrays. It makes enforcing those laws up to local law enforcement. Lake Charles Police Sergeant Mark Kraus says they're doing just that, and he wants to make sure business owners don't knowingly break the law. Kraus says Lake Charles Police issued at least two citations for the smoking law. One of those was to The Sports Pit. We spoke with the owner, and he says there are conflicting laws regarding smoking in his establishment, and that he's turning the matter over to Lake Charles City Council. We also called the Calcasieu Sheriff's Department. They say they will investigate any complaints, but have yet to issue any citations.