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.
A divided 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal reversed a Lafayette district judge’s ruling absolving the co-owner of a New Iberia accounting firm of liability in an embezzlement case.
Our View: It’s reasonable, temporary and invests in Lafayette’s future.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
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US cities bidding on Olympics; Guard prevents more Ferguson riots; storm threatens travel and more national and international news for Wednesday, November 26, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
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Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
A Lafayette woman faces up to 20 years in prison for running up more than $1 million in unauthorized charges to her company credit card.
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Acadiana's nightlife guide.
State police say a 47-year-old Lafayette man, who collected more than $83,000 in disability benefits, is accused of operating two businesses out of his home at a time when he claimed he had no income.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
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After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
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By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.