UPDATE: Bill passes House to allow cigars in ND lounges and bars

Published: Jan. 21, 2023 at 10:44 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - UPDATE (1/25/23 at 2 p.m.): The North Dakota House of Representatives passed a bill that would legalize cigar bars and lounges across the state Wednesday.

Smoking indoors has been outlawed in North Dakota since 2012. The bill passed by a vote of 59-32. Next, it heads over to the Senate.

ORIGINAL STORY (1/19/23): You haven’t been able to smoke indoors in North Dakota for 10 years. But a bill introduced at the Legislature would change that.

Senate Bill 1229 would make a change to smoking laws. It would allow for cigars — not vapes or cigarettes or cigarillos — to be smoked indoors at cigar lounges and bars. To qualify, the facility would need to be enclosed by solid walls or windows, a ceiling, and a solid door, and it would need to be properly ventilated. Representative Dan Ruby of Minot, who introduced the bill, believes there’s a strong appetite to reintroduce smoking to bars.

“There’s been a lot of people that would like to have this niche market. It’s very popular all over the country, where people can enjoy a cigar and potentially a beverage,” said Representative Ruby.

But those who believe bars should stay smoke-free say North Dakotans are happy with the state’s laws prohibiting smoking indoors.

“There’s no safe level of secondhand smoke, and so, exposing businesses that would share walls with establishments, patrons that would be in there but maybe not want to partake in the smoking, all that is going to have some pretty serious health effects, both short-term and long-term for anyone being exposed to those secondhand smoke chemicals,” said Heather Austin, executive director of Tobacco Free North Dakota.

Austin went on to say it’s impossible for air filtration systems to filter out all the smoke in an enclosed setting. Representative Ruby says it might be true that ventilation systems can’t filter out all of the smoke, but he believes the people attending these facilities would be people who are actively smoking cigars and would therefore be less concerned about secondhand smoke.