Nevada smoking ban reversal delayed |

Nevada smoking ban reversal delayed

Geoff Dornan
Tribune Capitol Bureau

CARSON CITY, Nev. – The Nevada State Health Board on Friday delayed action on regulations that opponents claim would reverse the ban on smoking in restaurants.

The Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act was approved by voters in November 2006. It banned smoking in grocery stores, restaurants and most other public areas and businesses – especially those frequented by families and children.

Stand-alone bars and taverns were exempted from the ban along with casino-resorts.

Michael Hackett of Alrus Consulting in Reno organized the petition drive in 2006 on behalf of groups including the American Cancer Society and American Lung Association. He said language in the proposed regulations would allow restaurants to again create smoking sections, exposing nonsmokers and children to tobacco smoke.

“To me this is creating an exemption that is not allowed by statute,” he said.

The regulations would allow a smoking bar and a non-smoking restaurant in the same building as long as they were completely separated from each other – including separate heating and air conditioning systems.

The health board has been working on the regulations for about two years to, in the words of lobbyist Jim Wadhams, “implement, refine and clarify” the rules governing the voter-approved statute. Wadhams represents several groups including Golden Gaming, which would like to see the rules eased. He said the regulations mirror what Clark County has been doing since passage of the ban.

At Friday’s hearing, Hackett was joined by representatives of the Lung Association, Nevada Tobacco Prevention Coalition, Nevada Academy of Family Physicians and others objecting to the proposed language.

Brooke Wong of the Nevada Academy of Family Physicians said the proposed rules would create loopholes for restaurants.

“We should be moving forward with protecting Nevadans from second-hand smoke, not trying to figure out ways to get around the law,” she said.

Van Heffner of the Nevada Hotel and Lodging Association asked for a delay and another workshop on the proposed regulations.

The board voted to postpone action on the regulations until another workshop can take place.

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