Date: July 2024
Author: Inspector X

This week, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed S.B. 527 into law, introducing greater flexibility in the permitting of cigar bars across the state. The legislation had previously passed with a 33-11 vote in the North Carolina Senate and a 105-4 vote in the House of Representatives as part of a regulatory reform measure addressing alcohol beverage control.

Under the new law, prospective cigar bars no longer need to be housed in free-standing buildings unless they serve food. This change also allows existing cigar shops to apply for such permits, thereby expanding opportunities for these businesses.

North Carolina State Senator Todd Johnson, who played a key role in advancing S.B. 527, expressed his support for the new law. “I was pleased to help advance the language in S.B. 527, allowing for some flexibility in the permitting of cigar bars in North Carolina. I certainly don’t envision such establishments popping up like coffee shops, but for those who want to open or expand such small businesses, the state shouldn’t stand in the way. It works in other parts of the country, and it can work here,” stated Johnson.

The Premium Cigar Association (PCA) has endorsed the legislation and praised the efforts of the Governor and legislature. Glynn Loope, PCA director of state advocacy, commented, “North Carolina has created a model to be emulated in other states. Currently, there is cigar bar legislation pending or under consideration in Ohio, New York, and Wisconsin and being evaluated in Michigan. Following the successful passage of related legislation in North Dakota and Connecticut, it is obvious that legislatures are recognizing the fundamental difference between cigar bars and lounges, and other establishments. Cigar bars cater to a discerning adult clientele, and these bills are being recognized as positive for the local small business community. Local governments in Colorado, Georgia, Missouri, and Indiana have also recently approved cigar bar ordinances. It’s a recognition as to how unique the premium cigar sector truly is.

Looking ahead, the PCA plans to support similar legislation as it prepares for the 2025 legislative sessions across the country.

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