ST. GEORGE — A group of citizens in Mesquite, Nevada, is trying to ban smoking in public places like casinos, bars, tobacco stores, bus stops and outdoor playgrounds.
Citing reasons like the danger of secondhand smoke, the group of citizens with the Mesquite Clean Indoor Air Initiative Petition Committee is seeking to get an ordinance passed through the city of Mesquite to ban smoking in public places. The city is currently receiving comments from members of the public and businesses to determine the financial impact on the local government if such an ordinance were passed.
“Based upon the science and related research on the health and economic benefits of a comprehensive clean indoor air policy, it is not acceptable to us and the majority of the Mesquite community not to address this serious public health problem,” reads a letter by the petition committee sent to the Mesquite City Council. “We know that most voters in Mesquite support clean indoor air. They demand action.”
As it stands now, visitors to casinos across Nevada can expect to find clouds of tobacco smoke lingering in the air of most gaming rooms. Smoking is currently banned in most public places in Nevada except for casinos, strip clubs, bars, brothels and tobacco stores.
Out of about 10 state-mandated steps required for getting an ordinance passed in Mesquite, “we are on No. 2 right now,” said Aaron Baker, assistant to the Mesquite City Manager.
“The question we’re trying to answer right now is if this will impact city coffers or not,” Baker said.
The next step will involve the people championing the ordinance to formally collect names on a petition. The petition will have to be signed by at least 15 percent of the voters who voted in the last city election, which amounts to 1,210 Mesquite citizens. If the citizens proposing the initiative are successful in getting their proposal through all the necessary steps, it will placed on the ballot in the November 2018 election for voters in Mesquite to have the final say.
In addition to the Mesquite city website where people can submit comments about the proposed ordinance, there will be a City Council meeting June 13 where members of the public and local businesses will be invited to address the City Council.
The city of Mesquite has already received many comments about the proposed smoking ban from members of the public, Baker said, but it hasn’t received many comments from businesses that such a ban would affect.
“There has been a fair amount of general comments on both sides of the argument, saying ‘Yes, I’m strongly in favor of this,’ or ‘No, I’m strongly opposed to this,'” Baker said. “I haven’t seen a lot of financial impact comments yet. We tried to reach out to specific businesses who would be directly impacted by this, like casinos or places that sell tobacco products, about what this would do to their business and in turn what this would do for the taxes and fees they pay to the city of Mesquite.”
Comments about the financial impact can be sent to the city at the Mesquite City website.
According to the letter sent to the City Council by the petition committee, smoking tobacco is not a right people have in public places.
“The smoking of tobacco is a form of air pollution, a positive danger to health, and a material public nuisance,” the letter reads.
In addition to banning smoking in public places like casinos and bus stops, the proposed smoking ban would also affect “enclosed areas of places of employment,” like employee break rooms, private offices, company vehicles and hallways. It would also prohibit smoking within 25 feet of entrances or windows of businesses and public places, which would apply to outdoor playgrounds, shopping malls, stadiums or common areas of apartment complexes and trailer parks.
Under the proposed ordinance, there could also be hefty fines for violators. Fines won’t exceed $100 for the first violation, $250 for the second violation and $1,000 for each additional violation after the second one. Businesses that don’t adhere to the ordinance would also have their permits or licenses suspended or revoked.
Many states already have laws prohibiting smoking in all public places. For instance, in Utah, smoking is banned in all public places under the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act.
- Read the full ordinance proposal: Mesquite Clean Indoor Air Ordinance of 2018 proposal
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