Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bill advances requiring businesses to post signs on smoking

CARSON CITY – Assemblyman Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, said he saw a poster in a men’s restroom recently warning of the dangers of smoking during pregnancy.

So he doesn’t see any harm in requiring businesses that sell cigarettes to post a sign cautioning pregnant women about those same dangers.

Frierson and other Assembly members voiced their support for a bill before the Assembly Health and Human Services Committee, which approved the measure on Wednesday.

Assemblywoman Peggy Pierce, D-Las Vegas, the sponsor of Assembly Bill 170, said the March of Dimes is going to print 2,000 posters and distribute them to the Southern Nevada and the Washoe health districts.

The only two dissenting votes were cast by Mark Sherwood, R-Henderson, and Pete Livermore, R-Carson City. Sherwood said there were already existing remedies cautioning pregnant women about cigarette smoking.

Livermore said this was placing a “consequence” on merchants who are having a tough time keeping their stores open now.

But Assemblyman Steven Brooks, D-Las Vegas, said everything should be done to prevent health problems. He said it would be better to spend a couple hundred dollars on the front end instead of several thousand dollars treating resulting medical problems.

“This will give people a heads-up,” he said.

Existing law requires restaurant and bars to post signs warning of the dangers of drinking alcohol during pregnancy. The current law requires businesses that sell tobacco products to prominently display a sign that the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products to minors is prohibited by law.

At the committee hearing, a representative of the retailer industry took a neutral position on the bill, which now goes to the floor of the Assembly.