Boston Commission Nears Final Vote on Ban

After months of controversy, the Boston Public Health Commission is finally ready to vote Thursday on the fate of the city's cigar bars. Whether the new law will grant them exemption status remains unanswered.

In September, the board voted unanimously, 4-0, to phase out cigar bars within five years. The preliminary proposal, which needs final commission approval, also bans hookah bars as well as the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies and on college campuses.

Following the initial vote, Boston's cigar bar owners staged a protest during an October 8 public hearing and urged cigar smokers to write letters to Mayor Thomas Menino.

In response, Menino has stated he is open to compromise with the city's cigar bars because their particular clientele is often older and the businesses are neighborhood fixtures.

"I understand they've been there for a while and I want to work with the cigar bars," Menino told The Boston Globe in an interview. "I cannot during these tough economic times prevent them from doing business."

In 2004, Boston banned smoking in bars and restaurants, but exempted outdoor patios and cigar bars.

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