A bill moving through the New Jersey legislature could mean good news for cigar smokers, as opposed to the rash of anti-tobacco legislation that has been getting most of the attention.
Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-15) introduced a bill that would allow new cigar lounges to open in the state, provided they meet certain conditions. Under current law, only lounges that opened before December 31, 2004 could be registered with the local board of health, and be exempted from the provisions of the “New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act.”
A228 was introduced on January 16 and referred to the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee where it had been until June 5, when the committee reported favorably on it with some amendments added. The revised version passed with a 9-1 vote in favor.
A companion bill, S1863, has been introduced in the state Senate and was referred to the Senate Commerce Committee following its introduction on March 24.
The bill would exempt additional businesses that operate as cigar bars or cigar lounges from the provisions of the “New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act,” permitting a new cigar bar or cigar lounge to be opened and registered with the local board of health in the municipality in which the bar or lounge is located, as long as the bar or lounge files an application with the local board of health stating that it intends to generate 15 percent or more of its total annual gross income from the on-site sale of tobacco products and the rental of on-site humidors, not including any sales from vending machines, and is registered with the local board of health.
This means that each municipality would have the ability to allow new cigar lounges as opposed to the state mandating that decision.
Additionally, the bill provides that if a new cigar bar or lounge fails to have its registration renewed after one year, due to not generating 15 percent or more of its total annual gross income from the on-site sale of tobacco products and the rental of on-site humidors, not including any sales from vending machines, or due to expanding its size or changing its location, its owner shall not be permitted to register another cigar bar or cigar lounge.
A schedule for the bill to progress further has yet to be announced. Should it be passed, it would take effect on the first day of the seventh month next following the date of enactment, although the Commissioner of Health may take any anticipatory administrative action in advance that is necessary for implementation.