Cigar fans of Michigan can now rejoice: next week, they will be permitted to smoke in cigar lounges once again. Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services have updated their mandate from last month which will now allow patrons to smoke in cigar lounges effective Monday, March 22.
The update modifies a previous Covid-19 ordinance issued in late February which stated that masks must be worn during all gatherings. Although they could be removed for the consumption of food and drink, masks could not be lowered to smoke a cigar, effectively making a smoking lounge illegal. Those in violation were subject to fines and possible arrest.
According to the “Exceptions to face mask requirements” section of the updated mandate, citizens can now engage “in an activity that requires removal of a mask not listed in another part of this section, and are in a facility that provides ventilation that meets or exceeds 60 [cubic feet of air per minute] of outdoor airflow per person.” In licensed cigar lounges, where efficient ventilation is a necessity, this adjustment now allows patrons to sit at their favorite lounge and light up without breaking the law.
This decision was made after data was presented to the MDHHS through several meetings with the Premium Cigar Association and the Michigan Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association, along with Michigan Senators Aric Nesbitt, Wayne Schmidt and Curt VanderWall.
“Thanks to the Michigan cigar community for speaking up, and thanks to [health department] director Elizabeth Hertel for taking time to learn about our investment in ventilation equipment,” Andy Hyde, co-owner of Nolan’s Cigar Bar in Traverse City and president of the MPCPRA said in a statement.
“The collaborative work between the Premium Cigar Association and Michigan Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association was instrumental in achieving this victory,” said Josh Habursky, head of government affairs for the PCA. “We will build off this momentum as we work to preserve the tax cap in the coming months.”
A hearing is also scheduled to take place on Wednesday, March 24 between the PCA, the MPCPRA and the House Tax Policy Committee to preserve the 50-cent cap on Michigan’s state tobacco tax, which will expire in October.