Nevada justices hear challenge to smoking ban

By Chris Rizo | Apr 7, 2009

Nevada Supreme Court building

CARSON CITY, Nev. (Legal Newsline)-The Nevada Supreme Court is considering the constitutionality of the state's smoking ban, which critics charge is overly broad and targets bars and taverns but not casinos in the Silver State.

The high court heard arguments Monday on the ban. The Nevada Tavern Owners Association and Flamingo Paradise Gaming are suing to overturn the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act, which voters approved in 2006.

Lawyers for the company say the law as written is vague, noting that a person with a soda can maybe cited under the law if the can is then used as an ashtray.

The justices also heard that Clark County District Judge Douglas Herndon in Las Vegas erred when he ruled that criminal penalties for violating the smoking ban weren't applicable. Smokers who violate the ban face a $100 civil penalty, however.

The law bans smoking in restaurants and bars that serve food, in slot machine sections of grocery and convenience stores, and at video arcades, shopping malls and schools. Smoking, however, is still allowed on casino gambling floors.

Nevada lawmakers are considering legislation that would amend the smoking ban to allow patrons to light up in bars and taverns so long as children were not allowed inside. Senate Bill 372 also would prohibit advertising tobacco products at trade shows.

Critics have charged that legislators lack the authority to amend the voter-approved smoking ban.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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