Lawsuit seeks to allow Nevada convention smoking

AP News
Posted: Dec 23, 2009 9:42 AM

The American Cancer Society in Nevada has filed suit against the state, health officials and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, seeking to invalidate a recently enacted state law allowing smoking at some trade shows.

Anti-smoking advocates want a Nevada judge to void a measure relaxing smoking restrictions that was attached to a new statute making stalking and text-messaging threats a crime, said Tom McCoy, an executive with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network in Reno.

"The idea of taking an act amending the Clean Indoor Air Act and adding it to a criminal act that deals with stalking didn't seem to make sense," McCoy said. "We are going to protect that act."

A complaint filed Dec. 9 in state court in Carson City accuses lawmakers of violating a state constitutional requirement that laws deal with a single subject.

The lawsuit names the convention authority, state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and state and county public health officers in Reno, Las Vegas and Carson City.

Convention authority spokesman Vince Alberta said the authority would respond to the lawsuit in court.

Masto spokeswoman Edie Cartwright said the attorney general's office was reviewing the complaint and would file a response with the court on behalf of state officials.

McCoy noted that a measure to soften the effects of the smoking law by allowing smoking in bars where children weren't allowed and at businesses with separate ventilated smoking rooms passed the Senate but died in the Assembly before provisions were added on to the anti-stalking bill.

The Cancer Society official acknowledged other state laws relate to more than one issue, and that state legislative legal counsel approved attaching the smoking provisions to the stalking law.

The lawsuit was filed the same day the smoking elements of the measure took effect, McCoy said. The date also coincided with the third anniversary of enactment of the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act.

That initiative, approved by voters in 2006, prohibits smoking in restaurants, shopping malls, schools and day-care centers, in slot machine sections of grocery and convenience stores, and at video arcades. Smoking is still allowed on gambling floors of casinos.

Tourism and convention officials have said they fear losing conventioneers and exhibitors at shows such as the Tobacco Plus Expo, where attendees were banned in 2008 from smoking at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The Late, Great USA