Smoking in cigar bars and tobacco shops in Nebraska will be illegal any day.
On Wednesday, the Nebraska Supreme Court denied a request from the state’s Attorney General to rehear an August ruling that deemed an exemption to the 2008 Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Act unconstitutional. That exemption allowed for smoking to continue in cigar lounges and retail tobacco stores.
The Supreme Court ruled in a majority decision that “there is no difference in circumstances between tobacco retail outlets and all other public places and places of employment so as to justify the expediency of diverse legislation and that the exemption in § 71-5730(3) is therefore unconstitutional special legislation.” In other words, the 2008 law was made to limit all workers in the state from second-hand smoke, including those who choose to work in places that specialize in tobacco.
In September, the Attorney General formally requested the court to revisit the measure. The Attorney General argued that court unfairly targeted the smoking ban exemption. Late last month, the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission issued a temporary reprieve to cigar shops, renewing licenses that would allow for smoking in cigar lounges to continue. If the exemption was not granted, the businesses would have been forced to shut down.
The Liquor Control Commission indicated that it would wait for the legal matter result, but made it clear that if the court refused to revisit the matter, it would be forced to enforce the new smoking law.
It is unclear when enforcement will begin, but it is expected shortly. A person answering the phone at Jake’s Cigars & Spirits in Lincoln told halfwheel they would continue smoking until the Liquor Control Commission told them otherwise.