The Nevada Tobacco Prevention Coalition celebrated 10 years of passing of the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act Thursday at the Governor’s Mansion.
The Coalition held a ceremony in the Nevada Room to both celebrate a decade of clean air, but to also discuss their future aims with the initiative.
“This is great, it was a positive development in the public health policy,” said Dr. John Packham, president of the Nevada Tobacco Coalition. “We don’t often have victories but this was one and we are happy about it.”
The Clean Indoor Air Act came into effect in 2006, banning smoking in most public places and indoor places of employment, providing substantial changes to smoking laws to protect citizens from second hand smoke. Since the law was enacted, smoking rates have gone down in Nevada, with only 8 percent of youth and 18 percent of adults still using tobacco products.
While the initiative supporters labeled the bill as a victory, the believe there still is more that needs to be done.
“It has been a quick 10 years and we are happy because what we aimed to do is draw attention (to the problem) and in a state with lots of health issues, this is a huge victory, but we still have a lot to do,” said Packham. “With respect to the smoke-free law, there are still major exemptions like with casino floors and 21 and over bars.”
One of the new focuses for the organization is the reduction of e-cigarette use, which has seen an increase in recent years.
“We face a new threat with e-cigarettes,” said Kevin Dick, Washoe County District Health Officer.
They also hope to continue to work on tobacco bans in all public venues, including casino floors and multi-unit housing facilities to provide a better environment for people to work and live.
“All individuals should be protected from second hand smoke, no matter what their job or where they work,” said Joseph Iser, Southern Nevada District Health Officer.
The organization hopes that by eliminating the areas where smoking is allowed, it will help deter smokers, especially potential young smokers.
“We want the dramatic reduction of individuals exposed to second hand smoke and (by taking away spaces to smoke legally) we are taking steps to de-normalize smoking by taking away those places to smoke,” Packham said. “It tells kids this isn’t cool.”
Several areas around Nevada are attempting to help the initiative by banning smoking. Both University of Nevada, Reno and Western Nevada College have banned smoking on their campuses. The city of Mesquite is attempting to initiate a city-wide smoking ban. Lyon and Storey counties also created a program called Stand Tall, to raise awareness of the dangers of certain substances such as tobacco use in schools. Several students from Yerington, Dayton and Silver Springs were present to talk about the importance of smoking awareness. These initiatives all have the goal to reduce first and second hand smoking numbers across Nevada.
“Our work doesn’t stop until everyone is protected,” said JoAnna Strother, regional director of Public Policy for the American Lung Association. “...Everyone has the right to breathe clean air.”
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