Thoran Towler: Nevada smoking laws protect public from secondhand smoke

We all know smoking is bad for you. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking contributes to over 480,000 deaths per year in the U.S. This doesn’t include all the non-fatal health problems smoking can cause. One thing employers often realize is that an employee that smokes will often miss work due to smoking. This isn’t just hard for the employee and detrimental to their life, but it also hurts the employer’s business.

If you are a smoker that would like to quit, mark Nov. 16 on your calendar — the date of this year’s Great American Smokeout. The third Thursday in November of each year has been designated as the national day to help people quit smoking. This year’s event is also the 10th Great American Smokeout since Nevada implemented the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act.

The Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act (Nevada Revised Statute 202.2483) was passed by a majority of Nevada voters on Nov. 7, 2006 and officially took effect on Dec. 8, 2006. It substantially changed Nevada’s smoking laws to protect people from secondhand smoke in most public places and indoor places of employment. Although the act has been in place for over a decade, many people still have questions about what rules need to be followed.

The Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act prohibits smoking tobacco in any form in most public places and in all indoor public and private places of employment, including buildings, healthcare facilities, childcare facilities, public and private schools and school property, University of Nevada and Nevada Community College campuses, retail stores and malls, grocery and convenience stories, movie theaters and video arcades, and indoor areas of restaurants and their kitchens, childcare, adult care, and healthcare businesses in private homes. However, home offices in private residences are exempt. Hotels and motels, retail tobacco stores, strip clubs and brothels, and casino gaming floors where minors are banned are also exempt from the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act. In 2009, lawmakers passed Senate Bill 372, allowing smoking in areas of convention centers during tobacco-related trade shows, under certain conditions.

Then in 2011, lawmakers passed Assembly Bill 571, permitting smoking in completely enclosed stand-alone bars, taverns, and saloons in which minors under 21 years of age are prohibited from entering. This area must be located in a physically separate area from any non-smoking area.

Employers, especially those that operate businesses in an exempt location, still have a lot of choice regarding smoking. Nothing prohibits the owners of establishments not covered by the act from declaring the facility entirely smoke-free. While e-cigarettes are not currently covered under the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act, employers can choose to ban the use of electronic smoking devices in their workplaces. “No Smoking” signs or the international “No Smoking” symbol must be posted at every entrance to a facility covered under the act. Even many exempt businesses decide to ban smoking. It’s something many restaurants and businesses decide to do, not just for their customers, but for bartenders and servers that would be breathing in secondhand smoke all day.

Since its enactment, the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act has protected Nevadans and visitors to the state from exposure to secondhand smoke. It’s also worth noting that over 1 million Nevada employees are given the right to work in a smoke-free environment.

A former State of Nevada Labor Commissioner, Thoran Towler is Chief Executive Officer for the Nevada Association of Employers.


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