Cigar lounges one step closer to green light in Augusta

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Cigar lounges in Augusta are one step closer to getting the green light.

Commissioners have approved exempting the lounges from the city’s Clean Indoor Air Act.

Lounge owners would have to pay a $125 fee every year, and 20-percent of revenue must come from the sale of cigars.

The measure has one more reading before its given final approval.

Original article:

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Three years ago Augusta commissioners passed an ordinance banning smoking in all city bars.

Now commissioners are getting ready to regulate bars that sell cigars.

Visiting a cigar lounge on vacation was a great experience for Augusta commissioner Dennis Williams.

“Nice low lights, big overstuffed chairs, nice soft music, good cigar, good cognac, it was a good enjoyable evening,” said Commissioner Williams.

To bring that experience to Augusta city leaders are clearing the way for cigar lounges, that will be exempt from the smoking ordinance.

They will need to pay a 125-dollar regulatory fee and meet a requirement that 20 percent of revenues come from cigar sales.

“Our sister county is doing it they got a nice facility up there in Evans they’re operating and they’re not having any issues so that’s where we are,” said Commissioner Alvin Mason.  

But some in the medical community telling commissioners that’s not where Augusta should be, saying secondhand cigar smoke is also unhealthy.

And some commissioners see exempting cigar lounges as weakening the clear air ordinance.

“We’ll take five steps forward and four steps back. I think this is taking a backward step,” said Commissioner John Clarke.  

“It’s not changing or opening anything; it’s just giving another opportunity you can’t change it for anything else and it’s only a cigar bar,” said Commissioner Williams.

“I just see it as opening a Pandora’s box that we had already shut,” said Commissioner Clarke.

Members of the health community are scheduled to address commissioners as they make the final votes on the cigar bars that vote coming on Tuesday.

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