Baltimore's Havana Club Receives Exemption

Maryland officials recently granted Baltimore's Havana Club exemption from the state's Clean Indoor Air Act, which has been in effect since February 1 of this year. The club is now the city's only public venue where smoking is allowed.

Maryland's ban limits smoking in areas open to the public and exemptions are granted only if a business can show the ban is causing "undue financial hardship." This can mean loss of sales or an inability to recover losses from capital projects that created a partial smoke-free environment. According to the Havana Club, business declined 60 percent after the ban took effect.

In addition, the Havana Club, which is owned by Big Steaks Management, installed an updated ventilation system and agreed to provide employees the option to work in another Big Steaks Management business.

The waiver also states that the club must post clearly visible signs at the entrance on the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke.

"We were very pleased to receive the good news this morning [last Friday] about the exemption, allowing Havana Club to return to its original business model," said David Sadeghi, chief operating officer of Big Steaks Management.

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