A bill has been introduced into the North Dakota Legislature that once again seeks to create an exemption to the state’s restrictions on smoking indoors and in places of employment, which would then allow cigar bars and lounges to operate legally.

Update (Feb. 3, 2023) — The bill passed the House of Representatives 59-32. It now moves onto the North Dakota Senate.

HB 1229 was introduced by Rep. Dan Ruby, R-Minot, and has already been co-sponsored by 10 of his fellow representatives and senators. In order to qualify for the exemption, cigar bars and lounges would need to meet several requirements:

  • Have a valid certificate from he tax commissioner.
  • Have a humidor on premises.
  • Be enclosed by solid walls or windows, have a ceiling and a solid door
  • Have a ventilation system by which exhausted air is not recirculated to nonsmoking areas and smoke is not back-streamed into nonsmoking areas.
  • Not allow the smoking of any other materials other than cigars that were purchased on the premises.

To qualify as a cigar bar, an establishment would have to generate two percent or more of its annual gross income from the sale of cigars, while a cigar lounge would have to be dedicated in whole or in part to the smoking of cigars, while generating at least 20 percent of its annual gross income from the sale of cigars.

A similar proposal from Ruby was defeated in March 2021, failing to pass the State Senate by a 24-23 vote after being approved by the House of Representatives with a 48-45 vote.

Ruby contends that there is a desire to among cigar smokers in the state to have such places accessible to them, while opponents contend that creating an exemption for cigar bars would be a step backward in the state’s push for healthy workplaces.

The bill has been assigned to the House Committee on Industry, Business and Labor for its first round of discussions.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.