News » Citydesk

Boise Smoke Shops Fired Up

Changes expected to proposed anti-smoking ordinances


UPDATE: Wednesday, Oct. 12 11:00 a.m.

BW updated this story, including new recommended changes to the ordinances, at today's Citydesk.


Where there's smoke, there's some fiery opposition to Boise's proposed ordinances to restrict smoking in public places.

At an Oct. 5 information meeting at City Hall, one question raised an issue that had yet to be publicly addressed: What happens to businesses that deal exclusively with indoor smoking?

Hannifin's Cigar Shop has been in business at the corner of 11th and Main streets since 1905. Owner Stan Minder told Citydesk he is frustrated, saying he can't understand why the city would impose a smoking ban when motorcyclists don't have to wear helmets.

"It pisses me off because they're taking more and more rights away," said Minder, a non-smoker. "I'm not saying it's a great habit. I don't approve of a parent smoking with a car full of kids. But people smoke here. That's why it's a smoke shop."

Ryan Sturman of Sturman's Smoke Shop attended the Oct. 5 meeting and voiced a similar complaint. Citydesk stopped into Sturman's store at 218 N. 10th St., where he and his father personally sample the cigars they sell.

"Just our one shop alone pays the State of Idaho $100,000 in tobacco tax," Sturman said. "With cigars, there's no additives, no chemicals. It's just a rolled-up leaf, inside of a tube."

Sturman said the city's goal of creating a smoke-free workplace shouldn't apply to his store. He said he wouldn't hire someone who couldn't smoke, just as a mechanic shop wouldn't hire somebody who didn't know about cars. He said that in order for him to make recommendations to customers, he has to be able to smoke in his shop, not down the street.

The International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association agreed, issuing a press release calling the proposed ordinance a "tyranny of the majority," and sought to debunk scientific findings that link secondhand smoke with health.

Murtadha "Ali" Alsudani owns and operates the Ali Baba Hookah Bar at 2174 Broadway Ave. Alsudani worried that if the ordinance passes as written, he'll be forced to close down his business.

"The hookah bars will close down," said Alsudani, of which Boise has three. "When the hookah bars close down, the employees lose their jobs. It'll just make the economy worse."

Visit Citydesk for an update.

The City Council will host two official public hearings on Tuesday, Oct. 18, the first at 4 p.m. and another at 6 p.m. at City Hall.