The Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act of 2006 already outlaws smoking inside of buildings, but this has not rid campuses of tobacco smoke, said Assemblyman Paul Aizley, D-Las Vegas, the bill’s sponsor and a former professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
“My goal in introducing this bill is to make it possible for students to walk on campus and not be exposed to secondhand smoke,” he said. “There are entrances to buildings where smokers cluster because they’re outside, and you have to walk through the smoke to get inside.”
The bill received support from various medical associations whose representatives testified that exposure to secondhand smoke is both harmful and easily preventible. Christopher Roller of the Nevada Tobacco Prevention Coalition said 466 campuses in the United States already have a complete tobacco ban.
The Nevada Faculty Alliance also supported Aizley’s bill.
At the hearing, Aizley also submitted an amendment to his bill that would establish smoking on campus as a misdemeanor for which someone could receive a citation.
Although no one testified against the bill at the Assembly’s judiciary committee meeting, the chairman, William Horne, D-Las Vegas, had several concerns.
Horne, a UNLV graduate himself, imagined smokers fleeing the campus for a cigarette break.
“Where in that immediate vicinity would they be able to do that?” he asked.
Showing his familiarity with the local geography, he rattled off a list of businesses adjacent to the UNLV campus, many of which also don’t allow smoking on their premises.
“So, the parking lot in front of Chipotle?” Horne said. “So I can eat my burrito bowl and pass through a cloud of smoke?”
He seemed to be saying that an enforced ban would create a smoke-free environment for students and faculty, but would likely expose those in the immediate vicinity to more secondhand smoke.
Assemblywoman Marilyn Dondero Loop, D-Las Vegas, asked whether or not smoking would be allowed in parking lots.
The bill language states that smoking would be banned “on any property or campus owned or occupied by any component of the Nevada System of Higher Education and used for any purpose related to the System,” which would seem to include university parking lots.
The committee did not vote on the bill.
“I’d like to see if we can come to some kind of compromise,” Horne said to Aizley at the conclusion of the hearing. “They [Smokers] should have at least some place that they could go that’s convenient to do it.”
“My intention is to have the ability to walk through the campus smoke free,” Aizley responded.
Aizley said he would examine possibilities for creating smoking zones that would still allow people to walk through campus without breathing secondhand smoke.
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