Dozens ask state senators to relax smoking ban

CARSON CITY — Nevada is a live-and-let-live-state, and adults ought to be able to light up their smokes in bars and restaurants, as long as children aren’t around to breathe the stuff, dozens of witnesses told legislators today.

They asked the Senate Judiciary Committee to pass Senate Bill 372, which would allow adults to smoke in bars and restaurants that serve liquor as long as people under age 21 cannot enter the smoking area. The smoking areas in these businesses would be closed off from areas where children could visit.

“This will continue to protect our children,” said Sean Higgins, a representative for Herbst Gaming. “It will provide a choice for adults. Smoking will be limited only to places people 21 and older can frequent. Last time I looked, smoking was not illegal in the United States of America.”

Clark County bar owner Ronald Drake said Nevada has a long tradition of allowing citizens to choose for themselves and the state should not be turned into another California.

“Let the marketplace determine whether a tavern allows smoking,” said Drake, president of the Nevada Tavern Owners Association.

SB372 would modify the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act, passed by voters in 2006. The act prohibits smoking in bars that serve food, restaurants, grocery stores and most indoor gathering places open to children. Casino gaming floors and bars that do not serve liquor are exempt from the smoking ban.

The state constitution does not allow the Legislature to tinker with laws approved by a vote of the people for three years after such laws go into effect. Consequently, if SB372 is passed, the change would not occur before December. The smoking bans began in December 2006.

The state Supreme Court will hold an appeal hearing Monday on the constitutionality of the 2006 smoking ban.

 

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.

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