Nevada Considers Weakening Smoking Ban

The Nevada Senate has voted in favor of legislation that would allow some taverns to permit smoking, a measure that could make Nevada the first state to lift previously imposed restrictions on tobacco use in public.

The New York Times reported April 18 that the new legislation, which will move next to the Assembly, would soften regulations put in place under the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act of 2007. The earlier bill banned smoking from any indoor space where minors may be present and food is served. The new legislation would allow smoking in food-serving taverns that restrict entry by those under age 21.

The Nevada Tavern Owners Association said revenue from gambling declined after the Clean Indoor Air Act went into effect because smokers opted to gamble at local casinos where they could smoke instead of using the video poker machines at taverns.

Health advocates contend that people will get used to the ban over time and that state legislators may face criticism if they weaken the ban, which passed with great support in 2006.

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