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Cigar Shops, Then and Now

One allows smoking, another had to stop

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Pushing through a wooden, glass-paneled door at Hannifin's Cigar Shop at the corner of Boise's Main and 11th streets, customers' shoes clomp across the original wooden floorboards. An ancient-looking skylight is the sole source of illumination in the back of the shop. The entire experience feels like traveling back in time.

That is, until you see a brightly colored lottery machine or large coolers filled with sodas.

Once bathed in a cloud of cigarette smoke, Hannifin's is now one of the many Boise locations forced to extinguish its butts. The new city ordinances, effective Jan. 2, outlaw smoking in any business with employees.

"If I hire somebody that doesn't smoke, that's my problem," said Stan Minder, the owner. "But it's like me being a stripper and saying I don't wanna take my clothes off."

He now tells patrons to put out their cigarettes in an ashtray as they walk in. Minder said he's not happy about the smoking ban. According to the new rules, he can allow smoking, but only if he turns his business into a strictly tobacco shop. Shops with tobacco sales representing 95 percent of the business' revenue can allow smoking indoors.

"They're telling me I'd have to remove all the lottery and soft drinks," said Minder, adding that they made up a big portion of his business. "This smoking ban sucks."

Sturman's Smoke Shop, a block northeast of Hannifin's, fits into the tobacconist category. The store doesn't sell candy, soft drinks or lottery tickets. It has occupied its innocuous location near Trip Taylor Bookseller for 18 years. A climate-controlled room filled with thousands of cigars clearly delineates Sturman's from Hannifin's--that, and a pungent aroma of cigar smoke that fills the air.

"It's hard to tell what it will do to business," said Ryan Sturman, who owns the shop with his father. "It just went into effect."

This time of year, after the spending spree of the holidays, is a slow time for the cigar business. For now, Sturman is nervous about the effect the smoking ban will have on his business.

"Leku Ona used to resell our cigars in their bar," said Sturman. "Since the smoking ban, nobody is puffing in the Basque bar any longer."

Sturman estimated that his shop lost $30,000 a year in revenue when the City of Boise instituted an ordinance restricting smoking in public restaurants. Boise eateries that previously had stocked cigars to pair with meals immediately stopped.

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