The Tobacco Plus Expo and the Retail Tobacco Dealers convention (the latter held at the Sands Expo and Convention Center) drew 27,000 attendees with a $41 million economic impact over the past six years, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors authority.
But last year, due to Nevada’s Draconian law against indoor smoking, exhibitors and attendees at the Tobacco Plus Expo — scheduled to return to the Convention Center in March — were not allowed to sample tobacco products.
Near the end of the 2009 Legislature, lawmakers repaired that problem with a modest patch. Amending a bill already in the works to limit stalking, they added an amendment to AB309 to allow smoking at tobacco conventions.
Now comes the American Cancer Society with a lawsuit. Because the measure was added as an amendment to the anti-stalking measure, it violates the state constitution’s single-subject rule, the society claims.
In fact, the prohibitionists appear to have read the constitution incorrectly. The single-subject provision was installed to block voter initiatives which contain hidden, “Trojan horse” provisions. It has never before been considered a limit on lawmaking by the elected legislators.
“The title of the law refers to smoking and stalking as the crimes,” Legislative Counsel Bureau Director Lorne Malkiewich said. “There are many laws passed that include more than one crime.”
This lawsuit is likely to fail. At which point, the courts should order the prohibitionists to reimburse the convention authority and Nevada’s taxpayers their legal costs. But more important is what this effort again demonstrates.
It would be an understatement to say the tobacco prohibition zealots — this latest effort demonstrates once again their goal is step-by-step prohibition, not merely “protecting the children,” who tend to be thin on the ground at tobacco conventions — don’t give a hoot about Nevada’s jobs or economy. Look at all the kitchen and food-service workers who lost their jobs when the smoking ban hit bars and taverns.
Now, with Nevada still up to our armpits in the worst recession in half a century, the zealots want to reverse a modest and common-sense attempt to keep tobacco conventions heading this way by allowing attendees — adults who have paid to be there — to sample exhibitors’ perfectly legal wares?
That’s like saying your booze and lingerie conventions are welcome in Saudi Arabia — though of course no one in attendance will actually be allowed to taste the hooch or see the underwear.
This is Nevada. Those who don’t like gaming, drinking, smoking and a host of other adult activities long tolerated here have 49 other states to choose from. But that’s precisely what they can’t stand, isn’t it — the thought that somewhere, even if it’s far away in some remote and forbidding desert, adults may be participating in a consensual activity of which they do not approve.