CARSON CITY — Use of electronic cigarettes would be subject to the same restrictions in Nevada as tobacco smoking under a bill heard Wednesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Senate Bill 201 would add vaping — the inhalation of flavored liquids through an electronic device — to the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act.
But critics of the bill countered that clouds of aerosol exhaled from electronic devices is not the same as second-hand tobacco smoke.
Voters passed the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act in 2006. The law prohibits smoking in most public places, including schools, day care facilities, restaurants and indoor work places. There is an exception for gambling areas of casinos, stand-alone bars, tobacco trade shows, retail tobacco shops and brothels.
“The bill does not expand the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act to eliminate any of the exemptions that currently exist,” said Michael Hackett, a consultant with the Nevada Tobacco Prevention Coalition who presented the bill.
Hackett said that while some might argue that vapor may be less hazardous than secondhand tobacco smoke, “Less harmful is not the same as being harmless.”
He said three states have enacted laws prohibiting vaping in areas where smoking is banned, and at least a dozen restrict use of e-cigarettes.
But Bryan Bedera, representing the Nevada Vaping Association, said “vaping is not smoking.”
He and other supporters of the growing industry said levels of chemicals in vapor are “negligible.”
Tom Harmon, a longtime former smoker and owner of Sin City Vapor in Las Vegas, said vapor from e-cigarettes dissipates, while cigarette smoke lingers.
“We are anti-tobacco,” Harmon said. “We don’t allow smoking in our stores. But, vape on.”
The committee also heard Senate Bill 225, to prohibit the sale of liquid nicotine products to youth under 18 years of age.
A separate measure, Senate Bill 339, would authorize the Nevada System of Higher Education to enact tougher restrictions on smoking, sale and distribution of tobacco on system-owned property.
Existing law allows school districts to impose more stringent restrictions on smoking, distribution, marketing and promotion of tobacco products. SB339 would give universities and colleges the same authority.
University of Nevada, Reno President Marc Johnson testified in favor of the bill, saying, “Adopting a tobacco-free university policy is a significant way to improve health and demonstrate values that are in line with the research and academic mission of this university.”
The measure is also supported by the Nevada State Medical Association and others.
The Senate Judiciary Committee took no immediate action on any of the three bills.
Contact Sandra Chereb at email@example.com or 775-687-3901. Find her on Twitter: @SandraChereb.