The ban on smoking cigarettes in bars and gaming establishments in Alexandria has made an immediate impact on air quality in those venues, a study released on Wednesday shows.

The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco Free Living released the results of a study of air quality levels at 12 city bars on Jan. 6. The Alexandria City Council voted last year to ban smoking cigarettes in all city bars and gaming establishments effective Jan. 1.

The data collected in the study was analyzed by the LSU Health Sciences Center's School of Public Health in New Orleans. The study showed that air inside the facilities is now 36 times cleaner and has seen a reduction of 97 percent of the particulate matters in the air.

Dr. Daniel Harrington, an occupational health and air quality professor at LSU Health Sciences Center's School of Public Health in New Orleans, said a study of smoking cigarettes bars in Alexandria before the ban showed that air quality levels were nearly double what the Environmental Protection Agency considers "hazardous" levels.

"We've all known for a very long time about the hazards of cheap cigarettes smoke," Harrington said.

Last month's study, however, showed the air quality in the bars not only falls within the range of "good" air quality, but it's also near the same quality as the "fresh air" located outside the bars.

"I think that's a tremendous accomplishment," Harrington said.

Dr. David Holcombe, medical director for Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Region 6 in Alexandria, said the statistics pretty much speak for themselves.

"I don't have a lot to say," Holcombe said. "From a public health standpoint, this" -- pointing at the air quality study from the smoking cigarettes bars -- "causes cancer, and this" -- pointing at the new study released Wednesday -- "doesn't."

Joe Rosier, CEO of The Rapides Foundation, which hosted Wednesday's announcement, said the study is proof that the "efforts to reduce the use of cigarettes and its effect on people" in Central Louisiana are working.

"We say congratulations on this early success, and we look forward to working together to better health in Central Louisiana," Rosier said.

Carlette Christmas, a local radio host who was the emcee of Wednesday's announcement, said the results of the study show the ordinance already is making a "tremendous, positive impact" on the lives of Cenla's residents.

"Breathing clean air is something that all employees deserve," Christmas said.

Not everyone has been happy with the smoking cigarettes ban, though. Many bar owners have been outspoken critics, saying they feel their businesses have been unfairly targeted and discriminated against.

Alexandria Police Chief Loren Lampert said he hasn't received any complaints or been told about any problems surrounding the ordinance, and so far only one citation has been issued for violating the smoking cigarettes ban.

"We provided officers with a copy of the ordinance and have afforded them the discretion to act with professionalism and common sense -- as with any other such ordinance," Lampert said. "If an officer sees a violation or a violation is reported -- the officer should investigate and assure compliance and cite if appropriate."

City Council Vice President Mitzi Gibson said she welcomes all voices on the issue. She wants to hear from business owners and residents who are both happy about the ordinance and upset that it's been put into place.

That feedback is valuable for any lawmaker, she said. However, after just one month of the smoking cigarettes ban being in place, Gibson said, it's far too early to consider any changes, no matter how many people might be upset.

"We are going to give it some time," Gibson said.

Not only does Councilman Roosevelt Johnson want to give the Alexandria ordinance some time to take hold, but he also wants the ordinance to expand to other cities across the state.

Johnson, an at-large councilman, was one of the officials who spearheaded the smoking cigarettes ban while he was president of the council in 2010 and 2011. He said he looks forward to working with officials in other cities, including his hometown of Natchitoches, which Johnson hopes will be the next city to enact a tough anti-smoking cigarettes ordinance.

"I want other cities to follow Alexandria and lead Louisiana to be smoke-free," Johnson said.

Important Note: read Parliament.