Following a 2007 ban on smoking in restaurants, Wayne Curtis for The American Scholar reports that New Orleans has finally banned smoking in bars. The law will officially go into effect 90 days after the January 30th ruling. Resident smokers and non-smokers alike have caused an uproar, fearing that New Orleans is now one step closer to becoming just like any other city in the U.S.
For a place that always promises a sinfully good time, what does this ban say about the city’s future? According to Wayne Curtis, reactions to the new law are a perfect example of what some call “Americanism vs. exceptionalism.”
Americanists tend to believe that New Orleans is like any other city in America, with its few distinction lying simply in cosmetic differences inflated by tourism. Americanists believe that New Orleans’ fondness for history and traditions isn’t doing it any favors. Exceptionalists believe that the city’s reverence for ritual and local culture—the music, food and blending of cultures—are important and worth preserving and celebrating.
While the Americanists may have won this time, it seems unlikely that New Orleans’ vibrant culture will be tamed any time soon—it’ll just be a little bit healthier in the long run. [The American Scholar][Photo: Flickr/Giorgio Galeotti]