Cigar Ban

John Burkman (left) smokes while enjoying a drink on Sunday at Jake's Cigars and Spirits.

MATT MASIN/Lincoln Journal Star file photo

At least one Nebraska cigar bar owner will wait until he receives written instruction from the state before snuffing out smoking in his establishment.

Jason "Hutch" Hutchison of Jake's Cigars & Spirits in Lincoln said Monday that smoking at the 14th and P streets bar will continue until he's received notice to turn in his special liquor license.

The Nebraska Supreme Court in August declared smoking in cigar bars and tobacco shops unconstitutional.

Last week, the court's decision became final, prompting some owners like Hutchison to think Monday would be the last day for cigar bar smoking.

The drop-dead date, however, remains unclear as different government agencies oversee the bars' licensing and enforcement of the state's indoor smoking ban, state officials said.

Nebraska Liquor Control Commission Chairman Bob Batt said Monday he spoke prematurely on Friday when he told KETV in Omaha that Monday was the last day for cigar bar smoking.

"Today is not the execution date," Batt said on Monday.

The Commission's Executive Director, Hobert Rupe, said Monday that the actual issuance of replacement, regular liquor licenses may take a bit longer as owners have to turn in their special licenses to the state.

And ultimately, his agency isn't in charge of enforcement, that's up to local health departments, he said.

Lincoln-Lancaster County's Health Director Judy Halstead has said her staff won't follow up on smoking ban complaints against cigar bars until after their special, state-issued licenses are revoked.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.

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Riley Johnson reports on breaking news and public safety issues in Lincoln and southeast Nebraska.

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