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News Summary

Assembly eases restrictions on smoking

Publication Date: 6/6/2011
  • Author:Geoff Dornan
  • Publication:Nevada Appeal

The bill easing restrictions on smoking imposed by the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act cleared the Assembly Sunday on a 23-19 vote.

Assemblyman Pete Livermore of Carson City was the only Republican to oppose Assembly Bill 571.

The legislation would once again allow taverns and standalone bars to serve food to customers. Lobbyist Sean Higgins testified during hearings on the bill that, when the voter-approved law took effect in 2007, tavern owners were forced to choose between closing their kitchens or banning smokers, who they said make up a significant percentage of their customers. He said the only effect of that portion of the law was to deny their customers food service.

Jeremy Aguero of Applied Analysis said his review shows the law cost taverns $114 million in revenue and the loss of 360 jobs.

He said the situation is made further illogical because bar and tavern customers can order food from somewhere else and have it delivered. He said the tavern owners just can't prepare and serve food themselves.

"The drafters of this act intended to allow people to continue smoking in standalone bars and taverns,” he said. “It will allow taverns who have closed their kitchens to reopen them and rehire employees."

Michael Hackett representing the American Cancer Society and other groups opposed to smoking charged that the legislation will weaken an act supported by 83 percent of Nevadans.

Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, said the ban should never have been tied to food.

"To me that made absolutely no sense," she said. "All you did was get a bunch of folks laid off because we don't serve food anymore."

Hackett said the idea was to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke.

"They just got rid of the kitchens," said Carlton. "People are still smoking."

The measure goes to the Senate for consideration.