By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: A controversial bill that would let stand-alone bars and taverns that allow smoking by their adult-only customers to also serve food won final legislative approval today with just three hours left in the 2011 session.
Assembly Bill 571 now goes to Gov. Brian Sandoval for his review. If signed into law, it would take effect immediately.
The bill would change the prohibition in the Clean Indoor Air Act approved by voters in 2006 to allow food service and smoking in such establishments that serve only customers aged 21 and older. Currently bars and taverns that allow smoking cannot serve food except incidentally.
At a hearing on the bill earlier today in the Senate Finance Committee, Sean Higgins, representing the Nevada Tavern Owners Association, said the industry has provided information to lawmakers showing the loss of business to the industry because of the smoking ban.
Health officials had argued that the last-minute bill, only introduced May 20, goes against the wishes of voters and is another effort to chip away at the restrictions in the act. They had also provided their own information showing that bars have not suffered economically as a result of the smoking restrictions.