A bill introduced into the Connecticut General Assembly could allow cigar lounges to obtain liquor licenses and become cigar bars.
SB 905 seeks to make a number of changes to the state’s alcohol laws, including allowing for the establishment of new tobacco bars, and for existing tobacco bars to expand or change location. If the bill passes, it would mark the first time in almost 20 years that cigar lounges could apply for liquor licenses.
The law that is currently in place exempted cigar lounges, cigar bars and private clubs from the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act, but also prevented existing businesses from changing their size or location after it went into effect. That effectively meant that new tobacco bars were unable to open, and existing lounges without a liquor license were not able to apply for one.
According to the state’s Department of Consumer Protection, there is only one cigar bar currently licensed in the state, Owl Shop in New Haven.
Should the bill pass, it would require new tobacco bars to be in standalone buildings or to have their own heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, as well as to have a walk-in humidor, and must generate more than half of its revenue from tobacco sales or humidor rentals. New locations would be subject to opening a minimum distance away from any existing tobacco bar.
According to a report by CTInsider.com, the bill has received both support and opposition since its introduction, with six retailers in the state voicing their support, while the American Lung Association has expressed its opposition, as has the state’s public health commissioner.
The bill is currently with the Joint Committee on General Law.