Bill: NJ towns would be able to sell cigar bar licenses [AUDIO]
The New Jersey Assembly is scheduled to vote Monday on a measure that would allow towns to sell cigar bar licenses as a way to generate revenue.
Currently, the only cigar bars still in business in New Jersey are the ones that opened before Dec. 31, 2004 and registered with the local board of health. They are exempted from the provisions of the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act.
"If you were a tobacco store before 2004, those are the only tobacco stores and lounges that could remain in the state and no new cigars bars could be established legally in our state," said bill co-sponsor Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Trenton). "The bill would grant the municipalities to - actually almost like liquor licenses, to establish a cigar license so that they could open up a new cigar bar or lounge."
Gusciora said not only could the cigar bars help towns generate much-needed revenue, but it would also help New Jersey compete with neighboring states.
The measure requires new cigar bars to renew their registration annually and the local board of health can renew a registration only if the lounge gets 15 percent or more of its total annual gross income from the sale of tobacco products and the rental of on-site humidors. The bar would also have to comply with all the requirements of the initial registration and replace the filter of the required exhaust system every year.
"They cannot sell food. They cannot sell liquor and they have to be a completely independent entity. The only people who are going to go into these places are people who smoke cigars and it's just a way of creating another economic engine," Gusciora said.
An identical version of the legislation has been introduced in the State senate, but it has not yet had a committee hearing.