Nebraska Lawmakers to Decide on Cigar Bar Exemption

After two days of debate, Nebraska lawmakers seem close to hashing out a compromise that would exempt cigar bars from the statewide smoking ban that goes into effect June 1.

Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh, R-Omaha, introduced a bill on January 15 that sought to allow smoking in bars where at least 15 percent of revenue came from tobacco products.

Many lawmakers opposed the original bill, not necessarily for its attempt to exempt cigar bars, but for its vague language. They felt the bill contained loopholes that would allow businesses to stock up on tobacco products to meet the definition of a cigar bar and permit patrons to smoke.

Since Friday, lawmakers have been fine-tuning details of an amendment that seeks to exempt cigar bars from the ban while tightening the language so other businesses couldn't easily qualify as cigar bars.

By day's end today, the bill being discussed would lower the revenue figure to 10 percent, but this percentage would be derived solely from cigar sales.

Lawmakers are expected to vote on the bill tomorrow.

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