Baton Rouge held its annual Blues Festival, which showcases the talent of Louisiana’s musicians, on April 13 and 14, 2018. Smokefree East Baton Rouge (EBR), a coalition of local, state, and national partners, including the ANR Foundation and the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation, co-sponsored the Blues Festival to help communicate the June 1, 2018, implementation of the smokefree EBR law which made all workplaces, including bars, clubs, and casinos, safe and healthy environments for everyone.
In conjunction with the Blues Festival, the ANR Foundation underwrote a show of the Public Radio Exchange’s American Routes program, “Labor Day Live from the Baton Rouge Blues Festival.” American Routes Host and Executive Producer, Nick Spitzer, spoke with a number of musicians during the Festival, many of whom are smokefree spokespersons from across Louisiana, including Samantha Fish, Cowboy Stew Blues Revue, and Lazy Lester–a blues legend who recently lost his battle with cancer. The program will air across 325 stations from August 31–September 4.
Many music cities are now Smokefree Music Cities, including New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Lafayette in Louisiana. Sadly, there are significant gaps in smokefree indoor air protections in major music cities like Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee, and Atlanta, Georgia, which continue to expose musicians to secondhand tobacco smoke. Lewis McTush, CEO and Founder of Entertainers Speaking Out and a member of the Atlanta Blues Society, remarked, “We as entertainers have become victims of our own success—breathing in these toxic vapors is the one link that we all have in common and explains why it is we are all so sick!” McTush added, “The Atlanta Blues Society adopted a smokefree policy which states it will only hold its monthly events in smokefree venues, for our musicians’ health.”
“All workers, including musicians, and their fans deserve protections from exposure to secondhand smoke,” said Cynthia Hallett, President and CEO of the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation. “Secondhand smoke not only makes it difficult for musicians to sing and perform, it is a carcinogen and has both long term and immediate negative health effects.”
“It is imperative to protect the health of our musicians. To not do so is to treat them like disposable workers instead of the treasured music ambassadors they are. How can any city or location say they love and promote their music but fail to ensure the health of their musicians?” said Kathy Richard, Healthcare Initiative Director for Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation.
“I support Smokefree Baton Rouge,” said singer/songwriter JST David. “All the musicians and industry service workers deserve clean air where they work.”
Smokefree Music Cities is a project of the ANR Foundation in partnership with other public health and musician-oriented organizations working to improve musicians’ health.