A smoke-free Festival International is a good idea whose time has come.
When a blog ignites five times as many words in reader commentary as the blog itself, you know you’ve struck a nerve. But it was somewhat surprising that last week’s blog, “Festival International aims to become smoke free,” became, per capitals, the most talked-about item to appear on our Web site in a while.
The gist of the article, as the headline indicates, is that Festival International is asking smokers to refrain from lighting up during the event. As FIL Executive Director Dana Cañedo is quoted, “We encourage all of our festival goers to be smoke free, so that you and your family can enjoy the sights and sounds of Festival for years to come.” Encourage, not demand. But within minutes of the post, indignation flared.
“Long Live the Nanny State!” read one.
“Heart disease is a big killer in Louisiana as well. How about doing away with all things fried in the food vendor areas. Oh, and alcohol exacts a dear social price, too. Gonna prohibit that?” chimed another.
“Absurd. In an outdoor venue? Give us a break.”
And the most telling of all: “Maybe I’ll smoke a little less but I’ll probably smoke a little more just in spite ...”
Where the comments really veer toward the bizarre is in the conspiracy theory that The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living is abetting this nefarious plot to snuff the civil liberties of smokers. Indeed, TFL is quoted in the blog endorsing a smoke free festival, and it’s one of dozens of corporate sponsors of FIL. TFL is a statewide program funded by an excise tax levied on tobacco products. Its name pretty much gives away its mission, and who can argue that its goal isn’t laudable?
The group’s most prominent campaign right now is the “Let’s Be Totally Clear” series of public service announcement featuring bartenders, waitresses, casino workers and musicians including Lafayette’s David Egan — people who work in an employment sector in which they are legally exposed to carcinogens. Nearly 700 adults in Louisiana die each year from exposure to second-hand smoke, most of them no doubt the spouses of smokers but many others bar and casino workers.
I’m not unfamiliar with use of the foul-smelling, pollution-emitting carbon monoxide delivery system, yet I’m not averse to the concept of a smoke-free festival, especially if clove cigarettes go elsewhere. Emo kids are creepy and cliquish. Besides, smokers are accustomed by now to huddling together around dumpsters and back doors, averting their eyes from the fresh-breathed. Banishment to the margins is part of the deal — part of the allure of whittling time off the back end of one’s life.
Alcohol clearly has extended social consequences in drunk-driving related fatalities and the upheaval of families, as one of the comments above points out, and Louisiana’s high-fat diet definitely exacts a toll on our health. But they don’t compare to second-hand smoke. And in the close quarters of a Saturday night in late April in Parc International when music fans are squeezed together like, well, like cigarettes in a brand new pack, second-hand smoke as a public health issue moves outdoors.
The stigma of smoking or public policy or both will eventually extinguish lighting up in public places, but in the meantime, may the only smoking butts at Festival International be between our knees and our navels.
New menu items ready for the Lenten season
The Cane Fire Film Series screens “MaidenTrip” on Monday, March 10, at the AcA.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The vibe of the tribe done modern
The Louisiana Workforce Commission said Friday that initial claims rose to 2,125 from the previous week's total of 1,964. There were 2,887 initial claims during the comparable week in 2013.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, March 07, 2014:
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
She’s the daughter of the legendary Johnny Cash, but she’s been a gifted artist in her own right for three decades, and she’s coming to Lafayette.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Prepare yourselves for sun
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
Due to the chaos of Mardi Gras and the weather, the entry deadline for this year's INDesign Awards has been extended by one week.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
Queen Evangline and King Gabriel ruled Tuesday night
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
IND Style does Gabriel
Newsy bits for the fam
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.