Boston Health Board Approves Tighter Tobacco Laws

Cigar bars in Boston would be phased out of business in the next five years if new regulations approved Thursday by the Boston Public Health Commission become law.

The commission voted 4-0 to pass tobacco regulations that not only would force Beantown cigar bars to shut down, but also would prevent new ones from opening.

The regulations would also ban smoking on restaurant patios and in hotels and inns.

"Half of the enjoyment [of smoking] is trying something new in a shop and you won't be able to do that," said Stephen Willett, owner of L.J. Peretti, one of the oldest tobacconists in America. Although Willett's shop by law is not a cigar bar, he believes the board's decision shows that a full workplace smoking ban in the future is likely.

Tobacconists and cigar bar owners are questioning the manner in which the regulations were proposed. Similar to recent events in Baltimore, the Boston health board seems to be using its power to legislate business in the name of public health.

"They [health regulators] are doing something they think is noble, but they are doing it in an unethical way," said Brandon Salomon, owner of Cigar Masters, a cigar bar in Boston.

The board is accepting written comments for the next 60 days, starting from last Thursday, and a public hearing is scheduled for October 8.

For more on this story, see tomorrow's Cigar Insider.

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