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Cigars in the US House of Representatives

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

Believe it or not, you can once again smoke in the Capitol building in Washington D.C. In January of 2023, Republicans gained control of the House, and new Rules Committee Chairman – Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma – a professed cigar lover, reversed the Capitol Hill smoking ban instituted by Nancy Pelosi in 2007. Smoking is still not permitted in any public buildings in Washington D.C., but the Capitol falls under the federal jurisdiction of House and Senate members who establish the property’s rules, including for smoking and pandemic protocols.

Smoking Bans Go Way Back

Some of the most celebrated presidents and politicians in U.S. history have been avid cigar smokers – and they, too, faced opposition. Smoking bans in our government are hardly new, going back to 1871 when then-Speaker James G. Blaine of Maine banned smoking in the galleries and on the House floor during legislative sessions. The Senate formally banned smoking in the chamber in 1914. Individual members have always been permitted to smoke in their offices, though, including throughout Pelosi’s ban.

The Good, the Bad, and the Government

As purveyors of premium cigars, we’re encouraged when politicians aren’t afraid to publicize their love of cigars. Few possess the gumption to do so these days, and those who do are often the best advocates for our industry and best qualified to protect our rights to legally enjoy cigars as adult citizens. Tom Cole joins the ranks of other elected officials whose love of cigars is well known, including James Madison, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Arnold Schwarzenegger to name a few. Our taxes pay our legislators’ salaries and for critical government facilities like the Capitol building, and we must remain vigilant with ever-restrictive measures on the horizon to tax and prohibit cigar smoking.

Recently, California state assembly member Damon Connolly introduced Assembly Bill 935, modeled after a law in New Zealand, to permanently ban all tobacco sales in California for those born after January 1, 2007. Because the general public is less knowledgeable about the differences between premium cigars and other forms of tobacco consumption, politicians negligently apply punitive restrictions, intended for big tobacco and the cigarette and vaping industries, to cigars. The premium cigar industry is a small but vital community of mostly family-owned businesses, and its products are exclusively marketed to, and consumed by, adults. Enjoying a cigar is a choice, and, even if you’re not a fan of cigars, you should be a fan of choosing. It’s your right – at least it is as of today.

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