The North End’s State Representative Aaron Michlewitz has successfully led a bill through the House of Representatives that would negate Mayor Menino’s efforts to close Boston’s cigar bars, including Stanza dei Sigari at 292 Hanover Street. In 2008, the City of Boston had ordered the cigar bars to close by 2018 as part of the City’s smoking ban in bars and restaurants.
The Boston Globe reports that Rep. Michlewitz “tucked the measure into the state budget, overcoming a stiff lobbying campaign by the American Cancer Society and other antismoking groups.”
“Cigar bars do provide an attraction,’’ said Michlewitz, who acknowledged enjoying the occasional stogie. “They’re part of the total package of coming to the North End. You have dinner and a drink, and sometimes that includes a cigar. That ambience has worked so well for the neighborhood, and we’d like to keep that.’’
There are three cigar bars in Boston and four hookah lounges. In the North End, Stanza dei Sigari is the only bar where patrons can legally smoke and drink at the same time.
The bill still has to go through the State Senate and the Governor who vetoed a similar bill last year by the North End’s Senator Anthony Petruccelli.
The Office of State Represenative Aaron Michelwitz has released the following press release on the issue:
Representative Michlewitz plays Key Role in Passage of
Cigar Bar Amendment in House Budget
Boston – The Massachusetts House of Representatives added an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2012 budget, sponsored by Representative Michlewitz, which would allow existing smoking bars in the City of Boston to remain open. Under current regulations cigar and other smoking bars would be forced to close in 2018.
“I am pleased that this language was included in the House budget. These local businesses represent hundreds of jobs and thousands of dollars in revenue for the City of Boston.” Said Representative Michlewitz. “Two of these establishments are within my district. These are responsible, locally owned businesses and the community would have been worse off if they had been forced to close. I was happy to work with the American Cancer society and I will continue to work with Senator Anthony Petruccelli on seeing this come to fruition.”
In 2008 the Boston Public Health Commission voted to ban smoking bars throughout the city. Current smoking bars were given a 10 year grace period before they would have been forced to shut down. Under the proposed change, current smoking bars would remain open. No new smoking bar licenses would be issued.