Bills In Maine, Connecticut Pave Way For New Cigar Lounges

Bills In Maine, Connecticut Pave Way For New Cigar Lounges

The right to open new cigar lounges could be restored in Maine and Connecticut. Lawmakers in both New England states have introduced bills that, if passed, would make it easier for entrepreneurs to establish new cigar lounges, smoke-friendly businesses that can legally sell cigars along with beverages, including alcoholic ones.

For Maine’s first 2019 regular legislative session, State Rep. Matthew Harrington (R-Sanford) has introduced Legislative Document 343, also titled “An Act To Promote Equity in Business Opportunity for Tobacco Specialty Stores.” LD 343 would amend the state smoking laws to allow owners of “tobacco specialty stores” to apply for a cigar lounge license for $100 per year.

According to current Maine state law, smoking is prohibited in a tobacco specialty store unless it was grandfathered in before January 1, 2007. Harrington’s LD 343 bill would change this by allowing a tobacco specialty store to apply for a license to gain cigar lounge status.

Under Harrington’s bill, smoking would only be allowed in cigar lounges that don’t prepare and/or sell food, and would be prohibited in places that welcome cigarettes. In other words, only cigar smoking and beverages could be legally consumed.

In Connecticut, State Rep. Jason Perillo (R-113th District) has introduced House Bill 5139, also called “An Act Concerning Tobacco Bars.” The law is simple in that it would allow “for the expansion, change in location and establishment of tobacco bars.” In Connecticut, a tobacco bar is an establishment that holds a liquor permit and generates 10 percent or more of its total annual gross income from the on-site sale of tobacco products. The state has not allowed new tobacco bars to open since 2002.

Both bill proposals are being supported by the Cigar Rights of America, which is encouraging cigar enthusiasts in Maine and Connecticut to reach out to their respective lawmakers to show their support of each law.

For Maine residents, the petition to take action can be found here. Connecticut residents can follow this link to contact their state representatives.

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