Nevada pubs hope for end to smoking ban

Apr 21, 2009 5:09 PM
Staff & Wire Reports |

Nevada taverns that watched their gaming revenue drift away in a statewide smoking ban, may get some relief in the state legislature. They are also hopeful of a favorable Supreme Court decision on the issue.

A bill that would ease terms of a voter-approved measure that banned smoking in many Nevada bars and other public places was approved on a 14-5 vote last week in the state Senate.

SB372, softening the 2006 Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act, would allow smoking in bars that serve food as long as minors are restricted from entry. Also, businesses could wall off separately ventilated smoking rooms.

Opponents included Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, who said he had "been to God’s waiting room" while undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, adding that second-hand smoke didn’t cause his disease but has caused cancer in other "unsuspecting victims."

"The voters of Nevada took it upon themselves to do this public service" by imposing the smoking ban, Lee said, adding, "The people voted to protect themselves from future health harm. We owe it to our constituents to uphold their decision."

As amended, the bill calls for fines of up to $2,000 for bar owners who fail to keep out minors. Also, the state health officer could designate local health authorities to enforce the act.

The 2006 initiative prohibited smoking in restaurants and bars that serve food, in slot machine sections of grocery and convenience stores, and at video arcades, shopping malls, schools and day-care centers. Smoking is still allowed on gambling floors of casinos.