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Smoke in Your Eyes: ACS Sues to Stop Smoking at NV Tobacco Shows

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on January 29, 2010 12:05 PM

At this point most of us would agree that smoking is bad for you. It's bad for the guy standing next to the guy who is smoking. It's bad for the kids of the guy who is smoking. But here is an question, if tobacco is still a legal product in this country, and it is, maybe the one place you should be able to smoke is at a tobacco trade show? On Monday, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority asked a Nevada judge to dismiss a lawsuit by the American Cancer Society seeking to stop smoking at tobacco trade shows.

The ACS filed suit against the Convention Authority, Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and public health officials for the revisions they supported to the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act. That law prohibits smoking in public areas such as restaurants, malls, grocery stores and government buildings. The named defendants allegedly pushed for a change to the Clean Air Act to allow smoking indoors at tobacco trade shows. The amendment was tacked onto a proposed statute making stalking and text-messaging threats a crime. According to the suit, this is in violation of a state constitutional requirement that laws considered by the legislature must deal with a single subject.

The Clean Air Act carried a provision that it was not to be amended for three years. Coincidentally, the trade show exception was passed days after the Act's third anniversary.

The Convention Authority believes the change relaxing smoking regulations at trade shows was a reasonable step."It is difficult to sell tobacco products to potential buyers if they are prohibited from sampling products they are being urged to purchase," the convention authority's motion said. "Thus, our elected representatives took the common-sense approach to allow smoking within the narrow confines of a tobacco trade show."

The Tobacco Plus Expo and the Retail Tobacco Dealers of America conventions draw a combined 10,000 attendees adding $15.7 million in economic impact to the local community.

The Authority is seeking to have the suit dismissed on the grounds that the ACS does not standing to sue. For a party to have standing, they must be able to show they have suffered an actual or imminent harm, caused by the action of the defendant, that can be redressed by the decision of the court.

Neither the ACS nor the attorney general's office returned press calls for comment.

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