The law took effect June 1, 2009. Judge Jodi Nelson said she agrees with the law’s exception for research facilities. But she said cigar bars, hotels and tobacco shops aren’t different enough from other workplaces to warrant special treatment.
For the time being, cigar shops are still allowed to have people smoke cigars inside. Still, cigar bar owners and legislators that support them expressed anger Thursday over the ruling.
“If these items constitute special legislation then our jobs are going to get a lot easier,” said State Senator Scott Lautenbaugh, who sponsored the cigar bar law. “Likely, all the sales tax exemptions would be special legislation.”
Phil Vanderpool, who owns Nickleby’s Smoke Ring, said the latest ruling, if upheld, would keep his cigar shop smoke free. Vanderpool said that would be detrimental to business.
“Two months, three tops, out of business,” said Vanderpool. “I think smokers, period, have been targeted,”
Vanderpool’s shop is one of maybe a dozen in the state that offers high-end cigars and pipe tobacco from all over the world to tobacco enthusiasts. Smoking, Vanderpool said, is a big part of what they do.
“We get samples in from tobacco companies, cigar rollers, every day, and we have to be able to try them to see if we like them,” said Vanderpool. “That’s part of our business. I don’t think it’d make it as a stand-alone without smoking in it.”
Vanderpool said Nickleby’s never has and never will be a place for those who don’t smoke.
“It’s a destination point,” said Vanderpool. “People want to have to come here.”
The state and cigar shops are asking the Nebraska Supreme Court to hear an appeal of the ruling. Hotels would also be affected if Thursday’s ruling is upheld.
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