If It Looks Like a Bar...

For every smoking ban that passes in a city or state, there seem to be some eyebrow-raising loopholes. Those exemptions can be questionable, and even ...
by | January 19, 2006

For every smoking ban that passes in a city or state, there seem to be some eyebrow-raising loopholes. Those exemptions can be questionable, and even confusing.

Now, just as Chicago's smoking ban is taking effect, there's a new bar restaurant lounge establishment that's blurring the lines even further.

At Marshall McGearty Tobacco Lounge, you can order a bourbon, have a bite to eat, and smoke to your lungs' content -- even though Chicago's new measure outlaws smoking in bars and restaurants.

But because McGearty's is a "tobacco retailer", it's exempted from the ban. As long as 65 percent of the revenues come from cigarettes and tobacco products, patrons are allowed to smoke there. (Interesting side note: McGearty's is financed by tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds, which says the gourmet tobacco lounge is the first of its kind.)

I don't really have a problem with exemptions for tobacco stores. But if you offer an exemption for tobacco stores that also sell alcohol and food, then you're just asking for establishments to test the limits of a smoking ban.

Sure, with the 65 percent requirement, the primary focus of the joint is going to be smoking. But if you're serious about banning smoking in public places, then don't have a ban with a loophole big enough for a tobacco truck.

Zach Patton | Executive Editor | zpatton@governing.com