SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Less than two years after banning smoking in casinos the Shreveport City Council reversed course with a vote to allow smoking on 75% of the casino gaming floor.

During Tuesday’s controversial city council meeting, Shreveport residents sounded off on what many believe was a tone-deaf turn by the council.

“Won’t you lift the ban and let folks smoke in here, why don’t you lift the band and let them smoke in the airport.” one Shreveport resident said.

Another spoke of a breathing condition that requires him to carry an inhaler, “We sat in a smoke-filled room; that’s why later on in the years I have to use a pump, Mrs. Taylor, Mr. Green, and others on the city council.”

Others questioned the council’s ability to empathize with the casino workers who by virtue of their work are exposed to the dangers of second-hand smoke.

“Would you still be comfortable if you were the casino worker? questioned a Shreveport resident.

Louisiana Department of Health Region 7 Director, Dr. Martha Whyte challenged the DDA, and casino leaders’ assertions that not allowing smoking would collapse the city’s gaming industry.

“These casinos are not going to go bankrupt because of a smoking ban,” Whyte said.

Those in attendance emphasized their belief that any amount of lifting the smoking ban was moving the City of Shreveport in the wrong direction.

“This will be wrong for the people working there, and it will be wrong for us for the people who enjoy going there.”

After over 90 minutes of public comment, the vote passes 4 to 2, and only one of the 6 council members present spoke after the meeting was adjourned.

“As I said in my statement I have never received any kind of outreach from any of the casinos, we, mainly any of the people that were there today is the first time I’ve seen them and heard from them,” District C Representative Jim Taliaferro said.

Taliaferro, who cast a “nay” vote, called the council’s vote a step back for the health of people who work in the casino industry.

“But when we took a step two years ago, two and a half years ago, on behalf of the health of the casino workers to ban smoking, then I think it’s a step backward to repeal that act or that ordinance,” Taliaferro said.

CEASE or Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects offered a statement after the vote.

“Just as casino workers across the country are building a movement to protect their health, the Shreveport City Council shamelessly betrayed their own local employees. The casino industry’s old, tired arguments are failing them everywhere that workers stand up for their well-being. Their lobbyists had nothing left to do but use their bought-and-paid-for politicians to pull the rug out from underneath workers in a safe, healthy, and profitable environment and steal that back from them. Our worker-led movement has done nothing but grow since it began and you can bet that the next community of dealers to rise up will be Shreveport’s.”