The Nebraska Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the law even as it ruled the legislature cannot carve out an exemption from the indoor smoking ban for cigar bars and tobacco retail outlets. It let stand an exemption for hotel guest rooms.
In an opinion written by Justice Kenneth Stephan, the court ruled there is no justification for treating cigar bars or stores which sell tobacco differently from other public places.
The Unicameral approved the Nebraska Clean Indoor Act during the 2008 legislative session. It prohibited smoking at the workplace or in public, exempting hotel guestrooms, areas used for tobacco research, and tobacco stores. The exemption for cigar bars was added in 2009, authorzing a business which received at least 10% of its revenue from cigar sales, had a humidor, and didn’t allow cigarette smoking to allow smoking.
Big John’s Billiards fought the smoking ban from its beginning. The court ruled Big John’s has no inherent right to allow its customers to smoke and the legislature could act to regulate and even prohibit smoking in its establishment.
The court ruled the exemptions granted to cigar bars and tobacco stores were unconstitutional special legislation.
The court ruled guestrooms could be exempt, because they are akin to private residences.
Click here to read the Supreme Court ruling.