NRS 202.2483 makes it a crime to smoke in many indoor areas in Nevada. Under certain circumstances, it's even a crime to allow children in a bar where there's smoking. "Smoking" now includes not only traditional cigarettes but also e-cigarettes and vaping.
The punishment for breaking Nevada's smoking laws includes fines and possibly jail. But an experienced Nevada criminal defense attorney may be able to get the charges dismissed altogether.
This article summarizes the Nevada offense of smoking tobacco. Keep reading to learn the rules, possible defenses, and potential criminal sentences.
Definition of Nevada "no smoking" Laws
The Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act spells out where people may legally smoke tobacco in Nevada. "Smoking" includes cigarettes, cigars, pipes, hookahs, or any other method of smoking tobacco.
Under NRS 202.2483, smoking tobacco is permitted in the following indoor spaces in Nevada:
- areas inside casinos where loitering by minors is prohibited (such as near gaming tables and slot machines),
- strip clubs or brothels,
- retail tobacco stores,
- age-restricted stand-alone bars, taverns and saloons,
- completely enclosed areas within stand-alone bars, taverns and saloons in which patrons under twenty-one-years old are not allowed to enter
- private residences, including private homes which may serve as an office workplace (except if used as child care, adult day care or a health care facility), and
- areas of a convention facility in which a meeting or trade show is being held, during the time the meeting or trade show is occurring, as long as it (i) isn't open to the public, (ii) is being produced by a tobacco-related business or professional association for convenience stores, and (iii) involves tobacco products display.
With the exception of the above, smoking is prohibited in any indoor place of employment. This includes everywhere from offices and warehouses to shops and eateries. Examples of places where smoking is illegal include:
- child care facilities
- movie theaters
- video arcades
- government buildings
- malls and retail establishments
- grocery stores
- restaurants (except for outside areas)
- school buildings (as well as on school property)
Note that local governments may create ordinances that would designate certain areas smoke-free that would ordinarily allow smoking. And business owners have full authority to designate non-smoking sections in areas that would otherwise permit smoking.
Nevada smoking crimes
It's illegal to smoke in a non-smoking facility in Nevada. People who light up a cigarette in a smoke-free zone are usually just asked to leave without the police getting involved. But people who persist in violating the rules may be cited or arrested. Beatty Nevada criminal defense attorney Michael Becker explains:
Ned walks around the Fashion Show Mall smoking a cigarette. Security asks him several times to stop smoking. When Ned repeatedly refuses, police are called and cite him for smoking.
It's also a crime for an employee of an age-restricted bar, tavern or saloon that allows smoking to permit a person under twenty-one to loiter there. It doesn't matter if the employee genuinely believed the person was twenty-one or over. Tonopah criminal defense attorney Neil Shouse gives an example:
Edward is a bouncer at a twenty-one and over bar in Henderson that permits smoking. He lets in Jeremy, who looks like he's in his late twenties but is in fact nineteen. If caught, Edward could be cited by the Henderson police for letting in a person under twenty-one into an age-restricted bar that allows smoking.
Note that Edward in the above example would still be liable even if Jeremy lied to Edward about being twenty-one or older. Nor would it matter if Jeremy showed Edward a fake ID ... though in that case Jeremy would also face charges for the Nevada crime of possessing a fake ID.
Defenses to Nevada "no smoking" laws
A common defense to a charge of violating the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act is that there's insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction. This is an especially effective defense if the prosecution can't produce eyewitnesses or surveillance video. As long as the prosecutor can't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty, the charge should be dismissed.
Note that it's usually not a defense that a non-smoking facility failed to put up "no smoking" signs. Patrons are presumed to know where they may legally smoke under Nevada law.
Penalties for Nevada "no smoking" laws
Smoking in a non-smoking area is a misdemeanor in Nevada The sentence is up to $1,000 and/or 6 months in jail. Furthermore, defendants are liable for a $100 civil penalty for each violation.
Similarly, it's a misdemeanor in Nevada for an employee of a smoking-friendly age-restricted bar to allow a person under twenty-one to loiter on the premises. The sentence is up to $1,000 and/or up to 6 months in jail. In addition, defendants face the following civil penalties:
- $1,000 for a first offense, or
- $2,000 for a second or subsequent offense
Note that it's extremely rare for a judge to impose jail time for smoking crimes, especially for a first-time offender.
Cited for smoking? Call us for help...
If you've been accused of violating Nevada's "no smoking" laws, call our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free consultation. We may be able to get the fine reduced or charge dropped completely.
We represent client throughout Nevada, including Las Vegas, Henderson, Washoe County, Reno, Carson City, Laughlin, Mesquite, Bunkerville, Moapa, Elko, Pahrump, Searchlight and Tonopah.