The North Dakota Senate has snuffed out the hopes of cigar smokers looking to see cigar bars and lounges open in the state, as the chamber defeated HB 1152 by a 24-23 vote on Wednesday.
The bill sought 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. To qualify as a cigar bar or lounge, a business would have to meet a number of criteria:
- Obtain a valid certificate from the tax commissioner.
- Operate a humidor on the premises.
- Be enclosed by solid walls and windows, a ceiling and a solid door.
- Be equipped with a ventilation system by which exhausted air is not recirculated to nonsmoking areas and smoke is not back streamed into nonsmoking areas.
- Permit only the smoking of cigars purchased on the premises.
On the revenue side, cigar bars would have to generate 10 percent or more of the establishment’s gross income from the sale of cigars, while a cigar lounge would have to generate at least 30 percent of its gross income from the sale of cigars.
Opponents criticized the bill as a step backwards in the state’s efforts to create healthier workplaces, as well as the overall health of residents.
While the bill could potentially come back up for another vote, its sponsor, Rep. Dan Ruby, R-Minot, told Inforum.com that he is not looking to find a senator to reconsider their vote.
The bill passed the House of Representatives by a 48-45 vote in mid-February.