NEW IBERIA, La. (KLFY) — Smoking inside businesses could soon be a thing of the past in New Iberia. The City Council has begun crafting a prohibition of smoking indoors ordinance in the name of public health, but not everyone agrees it should be done.
“I don’t want to be a total dictator up here and tell people what they have to do and can’t do,” expressed David Broussard, District 3 New Iberia Councilman.
Deedy Johnson-Reid, New Iberia Councilwoman of District 5 countered, “Sometimes we have to make the tough decisions, and that’s a tough decision but it’s for the betterment of the community, and that’s what lawmakers do.”
Banning smoking indoors is the latest debate inside New Iberia. Councilmen and councilwomen spent half an hour going over the pros and cons at the latest council meeting and are taking sides already before an ordinance is drafted. One side is advocating for health and safety, the other for people’s rights.
Councilwoman Deidre Ledbetter introduced the idea noting other cities like Lafayette, Abbeville, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport have all passed their own bans already. She also cited statistics that show smoke-free cities have not detracted business from bars or clubs.
“Because those people who are going to go there, will go anyway. If they have to smoke outside like they do at work, they will do that,” Ledbetter argued.
Still, three men on the seven person council and even the mayor believe the best approach is for people to vote with their dollars.
“I don’t believe in government telling a private business what they should do,” District 6 Councilman Dustin Suire stated. “I get it. Smoking is bad for you, but we make the choice to go into it, they make the choice whether to have it or not and in my eyes, that’s the way it should be.”
Mayor Freddie DeCourt does not remember a four-three split before in his tenure.
“This is fun. This is the first time in five years, I’ve had some division,” DeCourt added to the conversation.
No details are yet solid on what that draft would include, but a couple of things mentioned in the meeting will be considered such as exceptions for cigar shops and residences,
plus the creation of designated smoking areas.The next steps for the ordinance are to be drafted, introduced to the council, go to a public hearing, then put up for a final vote.
As Mayor Pro Tem Ricky Gonsoulin concluded, “It needs a lot of work. A lot of massaging.”