New cigar lounges could be returning to New Jersey. Last week, members of the state's General Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee voted 9 to 1 to pass a bill that would allow a municipality to authorize new cigar lounges (two members did not vote).
Currently, only cigar bars or lounges registered with a local board of health that were opened before 2005 are exempt from the state's Smoke-Free Air Act, which went into effect in 2006.
Assembly Bill No. 2057, which is sponsored by Democrats Reed Gusciora, Wayne DeAngelo and Joseph Lagana, would allow a municipality to adopt its own ordinance and set the number of cigar lounges that could open and operate within its borders.
Should a municipality allow new cigar lounges, prospective owners could then apply to their local health board in order to register a new cigar lounge. However, in order to be considered, Bill No. 2057 requires that an an applicant's cigar lounge must be meet certain requirements, including the following:
- The lounge won't be located in a bar or restaurant, and must have a separate entrance from other businesses;
- the lounge will be equipped with an exhaust system;
- no hookahs will be allowed in the lounge;
- the general public would not be allowed to purchase food or alcohol in the cigar lounge.
Additionally, the committee amended the original bill to allow prospective cigar lounges to apply if they serve food or alcohol only at private parties or events not open to the public.
A prospective cigar lounge would also have to renew its registration once a year, and only if the cigar lounge could prove that 15 percent of its revenue was generated by the on-site sales of tobacco and humidor rentals.
The bill will now be sent on for a third reading and a possible House vote.
Check out our Where To Smoke app to find a cigar-friendly venue near you.