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08-May-2009
Smoke-Free Frisco Considers Cigar Bar Exception

Frisco recently enacted and is enforcing an indoor smoking ban, but city leaders are considering granting an exception for a cigar bar.

The city was recently approached about the possibility of building a free-standing cigar bar in Frisco Square, the property bookended by City Hall and Pizza Hut Park.

"I'd like to think government is flexible and always look for ways to work with our local community and local businesses," Mayor Maher Maso said.

Frisco resident Tim Lasater, who smokes a few cigars a day, said he feels persecuted by rules that limit him to smoking in the privacy of his home or his car.

"It'd be nice to be able to go somewhere, not worrying about offending somebody else and having a nice cigar," he said.

Patt Morriss, of Sir Elliots Tobacco shop, said Frisco is ripe for a plush cigar bar.

"I tell people, 'Smoking cigarettes is a habit. Smoking a cigar is an event,'" he said.

Morriss said the No. 1 question he gets from customers is, "Where can I smoke?" He sends cigar lovers to places in Plano or Dallas, he said.

"People want a nice classy place to do that, and they can't find that here," Morriss said.

Maso said Frisco is just looking into the legality of an exemption for a free-standing cigar bar at this time and stopped short of endorsing such a business.

But he said a cigar bar would have little conflict with supporters of the indoor ban, because it has a specific clientele, unlike shared facilities such as restaurants, sports bars or places where families with children may gather simultaneously with smokers.

"We want to treat everyone fairly," Maso said. "We do want businesses here in Frisco. However, we are charged with protecting the health, safety and welfare of our community."

Regardless of whether Frisco actually creates an exemption or not, the state may have the final say. Texas lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban smoking statewide, possibly eliminating the existence of cigar bars, period.


Source: NBC Dallas-Fort Worth