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December 20, 2014

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Damon Political Report

Lawmakers debate bill to change indoor smoking ban in Nevada

Lawmakers have launched another 11th-hour debate into changing the voter-approved indoor smoking ban to allow bars and taverns to allow both smoking and food.

In Assembly Bill 571’s first hearing today, tavern owners renewed their argument that the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act has decimated their businesses, forcing them to lay off employees and costing them millions in revenue.

That law, passed by voters in 2006, forced many bars and taverns to choose between serving food and allowing smoking, undermining the business models of establishments throughout the state.

“Our business began to suffer immediately,” said Blake Sartini, CEO of Golden Gaming. “Smokers no longer felt welcome and non-smokers did not fill the void.

“We are a unique business. Smoking customers are a necessary component to a healthy tavern business.”

Proponents of the bill argued it would allow establishments that already allow smoking to serve food, as long as they don’t allow minors.

But while that may be the bill’s intent, it likely would also allow some taverns that serve food and allow children to once again allow smoking.

“You can certainly read it that way,” said Sean Higgins, lobbyist for a coalition of tavern owners and slot-route operators, who proposed the legislation. “But that is not the intent.”

Several of Higgins’ clients built a wall to separate their smoking bar customers from their food customers. Children are allowed in the restaurant portion of the business. Higgins said he wrote the legislation to allow those businesses to serve food in the bar and continue to allow children in the restaurant.

Anti-smoking advocates argued the bill is a “smoke screen” designed to hide a significant weakening of the voter-approved indoor smoking ban.

“This amendment of the existing definition of stand alone bar, would indeed expand the scope of where smoking is currently allowed,” said Michael Hackett, a lobbyist who helped organize the smoking ban petition.

Lawmakers on the Ways and Means Committee did not vote on AB571 today, but several lawmakers appeared antagonistic to the ban.

Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, said the smoking ban resulted in little more than layoffs.

“I don’t see that Question 5 actually worked,” she said. “People are still smoking. You didn’t change the actual act of smoking.

“You just have a bunch of people sitting at a bar smoking, drinking and playing poker with no food available.”

Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, chairwoman of the committee, had no reason for why the bill was introduced in the final days of the Legislature.

“It’s just one of those things that happen in the session,” she said.

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  1. I have no idea if it's true, but Sartini sounds like a moron with his oxymoron that, "Smoking customers are a necessary component to a healthy tavern business." "Smoking & healthy" in the same sentence? Give me a break! Even those hooked on the nasty habit know it's no good for them! Having said that, I believe that adults have the right to pick their own poison and, if they want to smoke in adults only bar/restaurants, let them. I'll steer clear of those places. But in restaurants that serve all ages, even in casinos, NO WAY!!!

  2. "tavern owners renewed their argument that the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act has decimated their businesses"

    So it reduced their business by 10%? That doesn't seem too bad. I'd thought it would have been worse.

    Anyways...

    Question 5 was a good idea, they just drew the line in the wrong place.

    New rule: if a place has a kids menu, no smoking. If you want to have a kids menu and smoking, then you need to put up the partition wall like a lot of establishments did after the law passed.

  3. They lost business on account of smokers and non-smokers alike lost their jobs in the recession and the tavern owners are using the recession loss as a loss on account of the ban. If they only lost 10% how much of that was from the ban and how much was from the recession, You can't tell me they lost no business in the recession.

  4. Here we go again. Each state has used their own reasons for bans. Here in NYS it was the health of the employees not the customer or children. Employees are suppose to have a safe enviroment to work in second hand smoke is the problem. NYS did not give a rats ass about the other people. I believe the bar area should be smoking and food served there. Children should not be allowed in the bar area and non smoking with food in the restaurant part. Is consuming Alcohol healthy??? so why allow under age people in the bar part?. Leave it up to the bar owners to decide if they want non-smoking bars. I believe restaurants should be smoke free and sitting at a bar drinking and not smoking is not healthy.

  5. It should be up to the business owner's to decide for themselves. They know what's best for their own businesses.

  6. Would like to know where you posters are coming up with they lost "10%"?

    There was over 100 bars in Clark County close due to business loss. Saw many of them lose over half their business within a month after the law was put into effect.

    Just allow the bar owners to post on their doors, Smoking or Non Smoking. You make the choice if you want to go in.

    It is really very simple. Let the man that put up the money make the choice for HIS BUSINESS and you make the choice if you want to support him or not.

    How many kids did they save from smoke in Taverns?

  7. So we definitely know which of the people actually go to these taverns by just the comments they made. The 10 percent quote is pure BS since after the ban Terrible Gaming, the largest owner of those bar slots machines most taverns rent from, the when bankrupt for the lower intake from gaming revenue. This doesn't include the literally 1000's of jobs that was lost when the short order cooks, wait staff, & extra bartenders were let go. A lot of my all time favorite bars closed down and they there at that location for 50 years before this stupid ban. Let the people have a choice at where they go, not the government!