Cigar Aficionado

Phoenix Cigar Shop Sues Health Department

Arizona's comprehensive statewide smoking ban has led one Phoenix cigar dealer to sue the state Health Department over what it means to be a retail tobacco store.

Magnum's Cigar, Wine & Liquor Emporium filed a lawsuit last week arguing that it should be covered under the exemption for tobacco retailers established in the Smoke-free Arizona Act.

"We are not a bar that sells cigarettes, we are quite the opposite," said Amar Patel, owner of Magnum's. "We are a cigar store that happens to have a bar."

In addition to selling premium cigars, Magnum's offers a lounge, in which customers can light up a smoke and make a purchase from a large selection of wines, beers and spirits.

According to the Smoke-free Arizona Act, which went into effect in May 2007, "retail tobacco stores" are exempt from the indoor smoking regulations so long as they derive 51 percent or more of their revenues from tobacco products and accessories. In mid-December, however, the Health Department issued a policy statement saying that establishments whose tobacco sales make up a majority of their business but who also serve food or alcohol cannot gain an exemption from the act.

For more on this story, see the upcoming February 19 issue of Cigar Insider.