Cigar smokers in Nebraska are enjoying their final days of being able to smoke in cigar bars & lounges, as a court decision handed down Friday resolved a debate about lawyer’s fees that was keeping the decision from being implemented.
The issue traces back to an exemption in the 2008 Nebraska Indoor Clean Air Act that allowed smoking in cigar bars and lounges and was being challenged by the owner of an Omaha billiards hall. The lawsuit, originally filed in 2009, was decided in August 2014 with the court finding that the exemption violated the state’s constitution. The court found that exemptions were “special favors” to certain types of businesses, something prohibited by state law and thus unconstitutional.
A petition asking the court to rehear the case was filed shortly thereafter, only to be denied and the decision left to stand. Even though the matter was closed, without the official written decision, cigar bars and lounges continued to allow smoking.
That all changed on Friday, and it appears that the ashtrays will have to be removed by Tuesday, according to KETV.com. After that date, cigar bar and lounge owners risk fine or possible loss of their liquor licenses if they are found to be allowing smoking int their establishments. Enforcement of the ban in the state’s cigar bars and lounges is being handled at the local level, which could mean the health department, Health & Human Services division or possibly the state patrol, Bob Batt of the Liquor Control Commission told the station. There are approximately a dozen such bars and lounges in the state.