In Shreveport, Louisiana, most businesses are preparing to go smoke-free by August 8th thanks to a local ordinance passed earlier this summer.
For many residents, it may seem like the city made the decision to go smoke-free quickly because the time between when the ordinance was introduced and passed was about two weeks. However, as You’re the Cure advocate, North Louisiana organizer of the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, and Shreveport resident Candice Battiste knows all too well, this ordinance is the result of several years of hard work behind the scenes by the American Heart Association and fellow members of the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Louisiana to lay the groundwork.
Since 2018, Candice was the force behind much of AHA’s on-the-ground efforts. She has hosted numerous petition drives, bar events and so much more. On July 26, 2019 Candice teamed up with bar owner, Trey Carter of Strange Brew in Shreveport, LA and co-hosted the first smoke-free event aimed at showing her fellow Shreveporters how smoke-free bars don’t have to hinder a good time. With almost 100 people in attendance, it was a success. Months later, Trey decided to build out an outdoor patio and make his bar smoke free.
While the Shreveport City Council passed a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance this summer, they shortly after passed another ordinance to give casinos extra time (till August 2021) to implement smoke-free specifically on their gaming floors. Sadly, the floors are where the most toxic level of secondhand smoke exposure occurs. The AHA opposed this delay because it allows patrons and employees to continue to be exposed to secondhand smoke. Now, the council is considering to delay implementation for bars as well.
And so, Candice continues to help the AHA ensure all Shreveport workers can breathe smoke-free air. Candice shares, “I truly love Shreveport and our hospitality workers, many who are my friends and family. They were essential to our local economy before they were given that designation during this pandemic, and absolutely are now. While we are under a statewide mask mandate, they are returning to the gaming floors. It is harmful to allow patrons to remove their masks to smoke around people who are trying to survive COVID-19 and make a living. I will never stop working for the people who are the first representation of our city to visitors. They deserve their elected representatives to serve them.”
Like the AHA, Candice believes the health of ALL Shreveport workers must be prioritized now, not later. She will be monitoring things closely in Shreveport alongside us. The AHA thanks Candice for her dedication to You’re the Cure and her hard work to build a healthier Shreveport!