In a surprise move, Boston city health regulators voted unanimously yesterday to pass a set of stricter tobacco rules that grant exemption to cigar bars while tightening cigarette and single-cigar sales.
Ever since the Boston Public Health Commission proposed expanding the city tobacco rules back in September, the group has flirted, to the dismay of cigar bar owners, with the idea of shutting down all cigar bars in the city.
Instead, regulators included language in the new rules that offer a 10-year grace period to cigar bars, with the option to petition for up to an additional 10 years after that period.
"We [cigar bar owners] look at it as good news," said Brandon Salomon, an owner of the Cigar Masters cigar bar. "It gives us 10 years to step back, focus on the fact that we're a niche market, and work with them [regulators] on that level of understanding."
Salomon views the new regulations as a good example of city officials and the cigar industry working together to compromise.
"We communicated with them and they listened. They were able to see the human faces behind the businesses they were impacting," said Salomon.
In news reports, health commission members stated that the current economic crisis and the unique clientele of cigar bars were factors in the final decision.
The new rules ban the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies and on college campuses and expand workplace-smoking restrictions to include patios and lodging.