A Nevada legislator wants to give counties and cities authority to crack down on teen smoking by making it illegal.
State Sen. Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, said while state law makes
it illegal to sell tobacco to minors, there's no law that makes
possession of those products illegal.
McGinness made his comments last week before the Churchill
County school board during a discussion about "Smoker's Corner,"
where high school students meet to smoke before and after school
and during breaks between classes.
The 20-foot-by-40-foot area, on property owned by the Cock N'
Bull Restaurant next to Churchill County High School, was created
in 1997 through a joint agreement.
Under the agreement, the city and the school district share the
cost of liability insurance, and the business owner is protected
from any liability claims on the land.
The goal was to reduce the problem of teens congregating to
smoke on sidewalks and spilling onto roadways, blocking pedestrians
"It was an attempt to mitigate problems between neighbors and
motorists and it has done that," said Fallon Police Chief Russ
He urged the board to leave the gathering place intact, saying
dismantling it would create safety problems.
"To close it would only displace those using it back into the
roadway and in harm's way," Brooks said.
High school Principal John Riley noted that state law prohibits
students from bringing matches and lighters to school.
"We know they smoke on the corner and probably have possession
of those things but we don't search them," Riley said.
McGinness said state lawmakers are reluctant to cede control
over smoking to local governments.
"There are a lot of politics involved in smoking in Nevada,
hence the power to keep it in the Legislature," McGinness said.
"The major industry in this state likes people to gamble and drink
and smoke at the same time."
McGinness offered to request a bill draft to change the law at
the school district's request.
"If you're serious, I'll do it tomorrow," he said.
School Board Chairwoman Debbie Smith said Nevada's 17 school
districts need to ban together to push for a bill making underage
tobacco possession illegal.
"We need to do the right thing and go all the way," Smith
said. "It's illegal for anyone under 21 to drink and we don't have
a drinker's corner."