In an overwhelming win for cigar smokers today, Nebraska state legislators passed LB 118 by a 45-3 margin, which will allow cigar bars and lounges to bring the ashtrays back out and customers to light their cigars up very soon.
The bill makes a clear distinction that cigar shops and bars are in fact different from other businesses and should be exempted from the state’s Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Act, since it clarifies that it does not interfere with the original intent of that law. Language in the proposal says that “The Legislature finds that cigars and pipe tobacco have different characteristics than other forms of tobacco such as cigarettes…and unlike cigarette smokers, cigar and pipe smokers may take an hour or longer to enjoy a cigar or pipe rather than simply satisfying an addiction.”
The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Pete Ricketts, who has five days to veto or sign it; if he doesn’t do either within that time period it will automatically become law. While someone might try and find a way to challenge the exemption, the attorney for the cigar bars has repeatedly stated he feels any challenges wouldn’t hold merit.
The reason LB 118 was brought to the legislature is because of a ruling by the Nebraska Supreme Court last year that ruled that the provision in 2008 Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Act that allowed for consumers to smoke in cigar lounges and retail tobacco outlets was unconstitutional. After numerous unsuccessful appeals, smoking in cigar lounges became illegal in late January, and the Supreme Court declined to rehear the case after issuing its original opinion.