- Associated Press - Monday, January 5, 2015

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Cigar bar owners in Nebraska think Monday will be the last day their customers will be able to smoke indoors.

The Nebraska Liquor Control Commission on Friday sent a letter to cigar bar owners instructing them to turn in their specialty licenses for regular liquor licenses, the Lincoln Journal Star (http://bit.ly/14oHRmo ) said. The commission executive director did not immediately return a call Monday from The Associated Press.

“I’m glad we’re not living in limbo every single day,” said Jason Hutchison, who runs Jake’s Cigars & Spirits in Lincoln. Hutchinson said he hopes lawmakers will devise new legislation that “will work out in the end for everybody.”

The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled in August that an exemption to the state’s smoking ban allowing smoking in cigar bars was unconstitutional. The court found the exception amounted to unconstitutional special legislation. The court spared the exception for designated hotel guestrooms, saying those were akin to private homes

The Nebraska Attorney General’s Office subsequently asked the court to rehear the case, arguing in part that the judges failed to properly consider lawmakers’ intent to protect cigar bars and tobacco shops from going out of business. The high court decided in September to let a group of eight cigar bars and tobacco shops submit a brief with arguments for keeping the exemptions. As those businesses awaited an answer, the state liquor commission allowed smoking in the bars.

In November the Supreme Court decided not to reconsider its August ruling.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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