GOP Smoking Mad Over Losing Cigar Hideout on Capitol Hill

Republican lawmakers have lost their smoking space due to logistics, and they want it back
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 17, 2024 2:14 PM CDT
GOP Smoking Mad Over Losing Cigar Hideout on Capitol Hill
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Anatoly Kireev)

Republican lawmakers have said being able to puff on cigars inside the US Capitol is "about freedom"—which is probably why so many of them are miffed that they've (perhaps just temporarily) lost their smoking space.

  • Musical chairs, office version: Per Axios, Rep. Tom Cole—who, as chair of the Rules Committee, boasted a Capitol "hideaway" that he transformed into a makeshift cigar bar—gave up that role in April to become chair of the House Appropriations Committee. That means he gave up that office to new Rules Committee Chair Michael Burgess. Burgess, a doctor, doesn't plan on having cigar parties in his new digs.
  • Cole's new office? The Oklahoma congressman could just turn his new office as Appropriations Committee chair into his cigar get-together space, except he's decided to let the former chair of that panel, Kay Granger, hang onto that office. "I do not have and should not have the chairman's office right now ... because Kay Granger needs that and that's the appropriate thing to do," Cole says. Still, "we desperately need a place to smoke cigars."

  • The rules: Smoking is banned in the US Capitol, but HuffPost noted last year that private offices are exempt from this rule. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi banned smoking in the Speaker's Lobby in 2007.
  • 'More than just cigars': Some lawmakers say the ritual is less about the tobacco buzz and more about mentoring, bonding, and tradition. "It's all about freedom," Texas Rep. Troy Nehls said in early 2023 on the topic, per Newsweek. As for pushback from Dems: "This is typical from the left. They want to infringe on our rights. ... They're probably complaining about my aftershave or the color of my tie. It doesn't end."
(More US Capitol stories.)

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