By Stephen Smith, Globe Staff
Cigar bars and other swank salons devoted to smoking won a significant though temporary reprieve from Boston health regulators today, who decided that the establishments will face extinction in 10 years instead of the five-year grace period originally proposed as part of sweeping new tobacco control rules.
The regulations, approved unanimously by the Boston Public Health Commission, also ban cigarette sales at drugstores and on college campuses in the city and eliminate smoking on the patios of restaurants and bars with outside service. Those restrictions will go into effect in 60 days.
The restrictions give Boston among the most stringent antismoking laws in the United States and place it at the vanguard of widening campaigns to reduce cigarette smoking, especially among young people and the poor.
While major pharmacy chains and tobacco companies quietly fought the rules, the most fervent opposition emerged from the owners and patrons of cigar bars and hookah lounges, where customers take long drags on flavored tobacco from a communal water pipe.
After considering those protests, the health commission -- which includes a top heart doctor and the leaders of two community health centers -- decided that a five-year grace period would give the cigar bar and lounge owners too little time to prepare for the loss of their businesses.
At the end of the 10-year period, smoking bars may ask the executive director of the health commission for a further grace period, the commission decided. The city now has six cigar bars and five hookah lounges. No new ones will be permitted to open in the city, however.
"Cigarettes are bad, they're harmful to people, there's a need for us to change the social norms around cigarettes," said commission member Harold Cox, an associate dean at the Boston University School of Public Health. "Our responsibility as governmental officials is to protect people."
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|White Coat Notes covers the latest from the health care industry, hospitals, doctors offices, labs, insurers, and the corridors of government. Chelsea Conaboy previously covered health care for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @cconaboy.|
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