Nevada Senate approves relaxed smoking ban |

Nevada Senate approves relaxed smoking ban

The Associated Press

CARSON CITY ” A bill that would ease the terms of a voter-approved measure that banned smoking in many Nevada bars and other public places was approved on a 14-5 vote Friday in the state Senate.

SB372, which softens the 2006 Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act, would allow smoking in bars that serve food as long as minors are restricted from entry. Also, businesses could wall off separately ventilated smoking rooms.

Opponents included Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, a cancer survivor, who said he had “been to God’s waiting room” while undergoing chemotherapy, adding that voters did “a public service” by imposing the smoking ban to help prevent health problems caused by second-hand smoke.

“We owe it to our constituents to uphold their decision,” he said, adding that business lobbyists who warned that the ban would kill Nevada’s tourism industry should have to go through the same public vote process that led to the ban in the first place.

“I think that playing the slots is not that difficult without a cigarette,” Lee added.

Sen. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, countered that SB372 doesn’t go against the will of Nevada voters because an amendment to SB372 provided protections against second-hand smoke and penalties for violations.

As amended, the bill calls for fines for bar owners who fail to keep out minors. Also, the state health officer could designate local health authorities to enforce the act.

The 2006 initiative prohibited smoking in restaurants and bars that serve food, in slot machine sections of grocery and convenience stores, and at video arcades, shopping malls, schools and day-care centers. Smoking is still allowed on gambling floors of casinos.