Written by Kevin Godbee

Friday, 12 December 2008

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industry updatessmoking bans
tobacco legislation

This morning I was reminded of this famously incorrect banner headline, "Dewey Defeats Truman". I wasn't alive at the time, but this headline went down in history for incorrectly stating the winner of the US Presidential Election in 1948.

Here's this morning's version in the cigar world.

There are headlines all over the Internet. I have seen them on at least 10 different websites, mostly mainstream media, proclaiming:

"Boston commission votes to ban cigar, hookah bars"

That was the Associated Press Headline that everyone else picked up.

Here's the deal: Yes. Smoking in cigar bars has been banned in Boston ... IN TEN (10) YEARS!

There is a 10 year grace period for cigar bars. I think the politicians figured they could get those special interest group appealing headlines while actually still doing what is right. It's really a no-brainer to understand that a place such as a cigar bar exists specifically for people that are adults that have made the educated and informed decision to smoke regardless of the hair-brained fools that try to tell everyone else how to live their life.

Who knows what is going to happen in one year, let alone ten years? I think this is a victory for Boston cigar bars. Everyone in Boston should go have a smoke at the aptly named Victory Bar & Cigar.

Here is the text of the AP piece:


BOSTON (AP) — Boston officials approved some of the toughest anti-tobacco rules in the nation Thursday, extinguishing cigar bars and hookah bars and ending the sales of tobacco in pharmacies and on college campuses.

The Boston Public Health Commission, however, decided to give the bars 10 years before they would have to close, doubling the original proposed grace period for the establishments. Even then, the bars could seek an extension for another 10 years.

Boston is the largest city, by far, to move to outlaw smoking bars, which have been exempt from the city's four-year-old workplace smoking ban.

"As we all know, smoking is the number one cause of preventable cancer deaths in the U.S.," said Dr. Paula Johnson, chairwoman of the commission.

"It's very important that we really think about what are the steps we can take to make our city as healthy as it can possibly be," she said.

The commission gave preliminary approval in September to the rules, which will take effect on campuses and pharmacies in 60 days.

The panel also voted to expand the workplace smoking restrictions to include and hotels, inns and bed and breakfasts, as well as areas such as loading docks.

Under the new regulations, operators of a smoking bar whose permit is current or whose application was pending before the commission by Nov. 1 will be able to operate for a period of not more than 10 years. After 10 years, they can petition for one 10-year extension.

Roger Swartz, who heads the commission's community initiatives bureau, said the panel lengthened the grace period for the bars because of hard economic times.

"We wanted to give them a bit more time to get used to the idea that they'll have to close," Swartz said.

The meeting was attended by a handful of cigar bar patrons, including Stephen Helfer, 61, Cambridge, who held a sign urging the panel not to close the bars.

"This is just an incremental step toward total prohibition," he said.

Right now, there are no state bans on smoking bars; 52 communities nationwide have bans that include private clubs and cigar bars, according to Americans for Nonsmokers Rights. Fort Wayne, Ind., is among the largest communities with such bans, and smaller cities in Massachusetts also have them.

The ban on tobacco sales in pharmacies is not as unique in big cities; a similar ban went into effect in San Francisco in October, despite a pending court challenge.

"It's very inconsistent with their mission," said Swartz of the pharmacies selling smoking materials. "In fact, you could say it's a conflict of interest."

The fines for violating the new regulations would range from $200 to $1,000, the commission said.

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