MINOT – Opponents say the “cigar bill” under consideration at the current session of the ND Legislature is ill advised and goes against the state’s smoke free law enacted by a statewide initiated measure several years ago.
Rep. Dan Ruby, R-Dis 38, Minot, is a sponsor of HB1229. During a legislative forum in Minot this past Saturday, Ruby explained the essence of the bill.
“The intent is very direct on this,” said Ruby. “It allows only cigars. Nothing is considered other than high quality cigars. I have no intention to have this as a creep for cigarettes or anything. I don’t see this has a first step in trying to reverse an initiated measure.”
The bill seeks to amend the ND Century Code regarding bars and cigar lounges, reading, in part:
A bar or cigar lounge.....may permit the smoking of cigars purchased on the premises, but may not permit the smoking of any other product on the premises. (a) "Bar" means a bar that generates two percent or more of the bar's annual gross income from the sale of cigars.
(c) "Cigar lounge" means a business dedicated, in whole or in part, to the smoking of cigars which generates twenty percent or more of the business's annual gross income from the sale of cigars.
Ruby explained that a cigar smoker would not be allowed to bring a cigar into a cigar bar or lounge, that it must be purchased on the premises. Furthermore, he stated, “You can’t smoke cigarettes in there. You can’t vape in there. You can’t even smoke a pipe in there. It’s very narrow. When you go into a cigar bar you know what you are going in for. This is very limited and very specific, not the nose under the tent.”
The bill received a “do not pass” recommendation from the House Industry, Business and Labor Committee. However, it passed by a 59-32 margin on the House floor, meaning HB1229 will be forwarded to the Senate for further consideration.