There are two initiatives on the ballot this fall: “Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act” and “Responsibly Protect Nevadans from Second-Hand Smoke Act.” Which of these measures would be best for Nevada?
The Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act
By: Michael Hackett
Current state laws on smoking in public places simply don’t protect non-smokers. Nevadans want change. The Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act is the only ballot question this November that provides the change voters want.
Sponsored by Nevadans for Tobacco-free Kids – a coalition of the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and the Academy of Family Physicians, plus the Nevada State Medical Association – this initiative would change state laws and ban smoking in public places where children are allowed. Protected areas include restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, schools and shopping malls. It would also give local authorities control over smoking policy.
The research is absolutely conclusive that secondhand smoke is dangerous to non-smokers, especially children – a fact acknowledged by cigarette-maker Phillip Morris Co.
Nationally, the impact on business from secondhand smoke-related disease is estimated at $10 billion annually in lost production, lost wages and medical costs.
Smoke-free laws are fast becoming commonplace – 16 states and counting – in states as diverse as Utah and Massachusetts. Hospitality-based economies have not been hurt by smoke-free laws. In fact, just the opposite is true. There has been a positive impact on sales, profits, tax receipts, employment and patronage. Further, these laws have proven very easy to comply with. Bar, tavern and restaurant associations in many of these areas support smoke-free laws, along with local chambers of commerce, realizing good public health policy means a healthy bottom line.
A second petition, Responsibly Protect Nevadans from Secondhand Smoke, will also be on the ballot. Don’t be confused by its friendly title. Reminiscent of 2004 and the deceptive intent of Questions 4 and 5 to roll back insurance rates and eliminate frivolous lawsuits, this competing petition serves only to confuse voters.
At best, it will maintain the status quo; at worst, it weakens current law, repealing local school districts’ ability to determine policy.
Finally, consider the source. Members of Nevadans for Tobacco-free Kids are dedicated to the research, education, care and treatment of disease and illness. That has been their mission for decades. The Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act is Nevadans’ only choice for change.
Responsibly Protect Nevadans from Second Hand Smoke Act
In November, voters will have a choice between two ballot initiatives. One that will help protect Nevadans from the harm of second-hand smoke – and another which will have a devastating effect on our tourist-driven economy by banning smoking in casinos, bars and taverns.
The Responsibly Protect Nevadans from Second Hand Smoke initiative is a rational approach to an issue of great importance to our state and our children. If passed, it would require substantial positive changes to our community and the industries that make our state thrive. Tobacco products would be prohibited on school grounds, in movie theaters and government buildings. Additionally, restaurants would be required to restrict smoking to sections that only allow patrons over the age of 21.
Opponents of this initiative seek to eliminate Nevadans’ right to smoke in adult areas, and in doing so, they pose a threat to our economy and our freedom to participate in legal adult activities in areas where minors are prohibited.
While the Responsibly Protect Nevadans from Second Hand Smoke initiative takes a common sense approach to reducing smoking as a whole – and protecting Nevadans, especially children, from second-hand smoke – the Nevada Clean Indoor Act seeks extreme measures like prohibiting hotels from offering smoking rooms and taking away the rights of bars and taverns to choose whether to allow dedicated smoking areas for their adult customers.
Nevada has a long and proud history of protecting individual rights. This year, we are faced with a decision that will impact our lives, our health and our future. By choosing to responsibly restrict smoking using common sense, we can and will protect the health of the people of this state without crippling our economy. Nevadans have a clear choice in November, and the decision will have a lasting impact on our state and our communities.
Nevada voters should vote yes to Responsibly Protect Nevada from Second Hand Smoke – and vote no against the Nevada Clean Indoor Act.