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Cigar smokers can light up - eventually

LINCOLN - Cigar smokers would be able light up in designated cigar bars sometime in early September under a bill given final approval by the Nebraska Legislature this morning.

State lawmakers voted 27-22 to approve the cigar bar exemption, which had been pushed by Omaha Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh.

The vote came after Lautenbaugh fell five votes short of allowing the exemption to go into effect immediately.

Legislative Bill 355 now goes to Gov. Heineman. If Heineman signs it into law, as expected, the exemption would take effect three months after the 2009 session ends, which is tentatively set for June 4.

While opponents decried the cigar bar exemption as endangering people's health, Lautenbaugh portrayed it as a common-sense change. Cigar bars were created for people to smoke cigars. The statewide smoking ban, which takes effect in June, would put them out of business, he argued.

"Given the hysteria surrounding smoking issues in general, it is nice to preserve a little bit of freedom for adults in Nebraska," Lautenbaugh said.

The governor has not stated publicly if he will sign LB 355 into law, but John Larkin, owner of Jake's Cigars and Spirits in Benson, predicted he would.

"I don't see why he wouldn't," Larkin said. "It's more than reasonable now."

Friday, April 17, 2009

Source: Omaha World-Herald

Cigar smokers can light up - eventually