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News Summary

Smoking ban constitutional, minus criminal sanctions

Publication Date: 9/25/2009
  • Author:Cy Ryan
  • Publication:Las Vegas Sun

The Nevada Supreme Court has ruled that a voter-approved ban on smoking in such places as schools and indoor places of employment was constitutional.

But the court held that the criminal sanctions could not be imposed because the language was vague.

Voters in 2006 approved a change in the law to ban smoking in such places as schools and indoor places of employment. But the law exempted gaming areas in casinos, stand-alone bars, strip clubs and brothels.

The passage was immediately challenged by businesses including Flamingo Paradise Gaming, Terrible's Hotel and Casino, the Nevada Tavern Owners Association and Cardivan Corporation.

Clark County District Judge Douglas Herndon ruled the law was unconstitutionally vague for criminal enforcement. But it survived the test for civil enforcement.

Chief Justice James Hardesty, who wrote the majority Supreme Court opinion, said the criminal portion of the law failed to provide sufficient notice of what conduct is prohibited and it allows for arbitrary enforcement.