LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Public health authorities from across Nevada on Friday are encouraging businesses to implement tobacco-free policies amid the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a news release, Carson City Health and Human Services, Southern Nevada Health District and Washoe County Health District together are encouraging all businesses to protect the health of their customers, staff and community with voluntary tobacco-free policies.
"Evidence is showing that smokers are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and experiencing complications from the virus," the release notes.
As businesses employ measures to comply with issued guidance and directives, the release says that the businesses can also implement policies that will prohibit the use of tobacco products in their establishments.
According to officials, these voluntary measures are allowed under the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act and would protect both patrons and staff.
Health officials say that businesses cannot adequately reinforce the proven risk reduction strategy of wearing face coverings while also smoking.
"The primary mode of transmission of the virus is through person-to-person spread of respiratory droplets," the news release said. "As people remove face coverings to smoke or vape, they are exhaling respiratory droplets over a longer distance."
This act itself, according to health officials, requires individuals to more frequently touch their face and mouths, which they say is a direct contradiction to recommended COVID-19 prevention strategies.
"Handwashing recommendations become ineffective for people who are repeatedly touching their mouths and faces and then contaminating high-touch surfaces in public places," health officials noted.