TFL News

Air Quality in Alexandria Bars Now Almost as Good as Air Quality Outdoors


Implementation of City’s Smoke-Free Ordinance Resulting in Healthier City

Within a month of the unanimous passage and implementation on Jan. 1, 2012, of the first ever 100 percent city-wide smoke-free ordinance by the Alexandria City Council, the air quality levels in Alexandria bars and bingo halls are 36 times cleaner, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards.


The study was conducted by The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living and data analysis was provided by the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center’s School of Public Health.  Air monitoring was conducted on Jan. 6, 2012, between the hours of 4 and 11 p.m.  It assessed the impact of environmental tobacco smoke on indoor air quality by measuring air pollution in 12 Alexandria-area bars where smoking was allowed, prior to Jan. 1, 2012.

In 2011, a full 60 percent of the bars sampled had "Hazardous" air quality levels. An additional 20 percent of the bars had “Unhealthy” air quality levels. None had “Good” air quality.  Today, post ordinance passage, there has been a 97 percent reduction in PM2.5 pollution levels, and the indoor air is now nearly as clean as outdoor air.

Secondhand tobacco smoke is comprised of a large number of very small particles, or “particulate matter.” The study involved taking real-time measurements of these harmful particulates using a direct reading instrument, which calculates micrograms of particulate matter per cubic meter of air (μg/m3).  According to the EPA Air Quality Index, measurements between zero and 15μg/m3 are rated as “Good,” ratings from 65 to 150 are “Unhealthy” and measurements of 250 and up are considered “Hazardous.”

“Our air quality monitoring verifies the effectiveness of the Alexandria Smoke-free Air Ordinance,” said Dr. Daniel Harrington, assistant professor of environmental and occupational health sciences for the LSUHSC School of Public Health and lead on data analysis for the study. “Before the ordinance was put into effect, employees breathed air with unacceptably high pollution levels – levels deemed hazardous under current federal air quality standards.  The fact that employees in all Alexandria workplaces can now breathe air free of harmful secondhand tobacco smoke is an accomplishment that no other city in Louisiana can match.”

“What a tremendous victory for public health and for the citizens of our community,” said Jennifer Gilchrist, Regional Coordinator, Alexandria, at The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco – Free Living. “Alexandria should be proud to be a leader in this health initiative. These air monitoring results prove indisputably how important this ordinance is to healthy, clean air for everyone and should serve as a role model for other cities throughout Louisiana.”

For more information on the implementation efforts in Alexandria, visit www.letsbetotallyclear.org or contact Jennifer Gilchrist at jgilchrist@lphi.org or 318.201.4083.  For more detailed information on the results of the new Alexandria air quality study, visit www.letsbetotallyclear.org.

The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living

The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living (TFL) and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Tobacco Control Program (LTCP) coordinate their efforts in tobacco prevention and control by providing statewide coordination of existing tobacco control initiatives, funding innovative community programs for tobacco control, offering services for people who are ready to quit and developing statewide media campaigns to help reduce the excessive burden of tobacco use on the state’s resources and improve the overall health and quality of life in Louisiana. For more information visit  www.tobaccofreeliving.org. To find out more about the dangers of secondhand smoke and show your support for a 100-percent smoke-free Louisiana, visit www.letsbetotallyclear.org.

About the Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI)

Founded in 1997, The Louisiana Public Health Institute’s mission is to promote and improve the health and quality of life in Louisiana through public-private partnering at the community, parish and state levels. By fostering collaborative endeavors in the areas of health information, public policy, applied research, and community capacity enhancement, LPHI works to develop community-oriented solutions that improve the health of the Louisiana population. For more information, visit www.lphi.org.