Louisiana: New Orleans Smoke-Free Ordinance

PSE Change Real-World Example – Step 5: Promote
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PSE Change Example

Problem: Among all states, Louisiana had the fifth highest smoking rate and was second to Nevada in the percentage of workers who worked in non-smoke-free workplaces.1   

1The Geographic Health Equity Alliance & the Louisiana Comprehensive Cancer Control Program. (2015). Coalitions Combine Forces for Cleaner Air in New Orleans. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/stateandcommunity/state-fact-sheets/louisiana/index.html#:~:text=In%202015%2C%20New%20Orleans%20adopted,restaurants%2C%20bars%2C%20and%20casinos 

PSE Change Solution: The Louisiana Comprehensive Cancer Control Program (LCCCP) and the Geographic Health Equity Alliance (GHEA) partnered with other organizations to form the Smoke-Free NOLA Coalition, which pursued a public education campaign and a legislative solution. The coalition utilized traditional and non-traditional strategies: they engaged a political champion and members from affected groups, such as musicians and a blackjack dealer, to address the personal impact of secondhand smoke exposure. They also staged a Smoke-Free NOLA parade to reflect New Orleans’ unique atmosphere. New Orleans’ smoke-free air ordinance was enacted in 2015. 

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Among all states, Louisiana has the fifth highest smoking rate and is second to Nevada in the percentage of workers who work in non-smoke-free workplaces (Geographic Health Equity Alliance & Louisiana Comprehensive Cancer Control Coalition, 2015). 

PSE Change Solution 

Promote a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance banning smoking inside worksites and public places including bars, casinos and restaurants. 


Partners in this effort included the Louisiana Comprehensive Cancer Control Program (LCCCP) and the Geographic Health Equity Alliance (GHEA) (Step 1: Engage). Since 2013, GHEA has focused on reducing tobacco-related risk factors that disproportionately affect people based on their geographic location. An early step in the PSE change process was for the partners to conduct an environmental scan to help determine next steps (Step 2: Scan). After the scan, they were able to identify priorities and selected smoke-free workplaces as an important initial focus area (Step 3: Assess). LCCCP and GHEA then engaged the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living (TFL) and the SmokeFree NOLA Coalition was formed. Upon reviewing possible interventions and actions, the partners determined that a public education campaign and legislative solution were both feasible and likely to be highly effective (Step 4: Review). 

They worked together on the following actions to promote awareness of their PSE change efforts: 

  1. A multi-stakeholder-led media campaign raised awareness among the community and stakeholders about the health impact of smoking, exposure to secondhand smoke and related health disparities. 

  2. The campaign engaged a political champion, City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell and key partners from local health and cultural organizations. 

  3. Stories of casino employees, musicians and tourists were shared to personalize the effects of secondhand smoke. 

  4. Public health professionals shared the science and statistics of the effects of secondhand smoke and documented the experience in a video. 

  5. Efforts led to the New Orleans City Council unanimously approving a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance that took effect in April 2015. 

Success Factors and Key Questions Addressed 

How did you frame your message for each audience? 

Coalition members framed their messages by using members from affected groups to talk about the personal impacts of secondhand smoke exposure. As part of its assessment (Step 3: Assess), the partnership heard from many musicians whose careers were put at risk by the physical effects of secondhand smoke. They also heard from a blackjack dealer with lung cancer caused by secondhand smoke. 

What cultural and/or community norms were incorporated to strengthen the message and make it more acceptable to your intended audience(s)? 

The coalitions promoted their effort by using strategies that incorporated local communities, cultural elements and a fun-loving atmosphere unique to New Orleans. In addition, they engaged traditional and non-traditional champions like musicians to communicate and strengthen their message.

Which media platform(s) were best suited to promoting your message and why? 

The coalitions used stories in local media outlets to promote awareness and educate stakeholders. They also used unique platforms like a “Smoke-Free NOLA” parade through the city streets to reach their audiences. 

Following successful implementation and promotion efforts, the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living (TFL) and the SmokeFree NOLA Coalition, along with opinion research firm, Public Opinion Strategies, contributed to evaluation efforts by conducting a citywide survey to measure residents’ support for the smoking ban. The stakeholders issue a press release to communicate survey results, which showed 78% of residents approved of the smoke-free ordinance six months after its implementation (Jing, 2015). The study received extensive local media coverage. 

These efforts are highlighted in George Washington University (GW) Cancer Center’s Communication Training for Comprehensive Cancer Control (CCC) Professionals 102: Making Communication Campaigns Evidence-Based

Related Resources 

Visit the New Orleans Health Department to learn more about this initiative or check out the “Smoke-Free NOLA” parade video. You can also read the city’s ordinance. Learn more about tobacco-free policies and efforts from the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living


The Geographic Health Equity Alliance & the Louisiana Comprehensive Cancer Control Program. (2015). Coalitions Combine Forces for Cleaner Air in New Orleans. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/ncccp/pdf/success/louisiana-success-story.pdf 

Jing, J. (2015, October 22). Study: 78% approve of New Orleans smoking ban. WGNO ABC. Retrieved from http://wgno.com/2015/10/22/new-orleans-smoke-free-for-6-months/ 

Resources to Support Similar Evidence-Based Initiatives 

The Community Guide 

Tobacco Use: Smoke-Free Policies 

Evidence-Based Cancer Control Programs  

Enhancing Tobacco Control Policies in Northwest Indian Tribes 

What Works for Health  

Smoke-Free Policies and Education  

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