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Lawyers leaping into the latest Massachusetts tobacco wars might look at the experience of Westboro, one of the first towns to prohibit smoking in public places. For all the problems envisioned at the outset of the ban, violations have been rare and easily resolved. Towns across the state are exploring smoking bans, raising such questions as whether a board of health, which often is appointed and not elected, has authority to declare such a ban. Once a ban becomes effective, a line appears the next morning outside the town hall, where lawyers for bar-owners and other businesses seek exceptions to the rule. Westboro’s ban outlawed smoking in all public places and limited smoking to enclosed, ventilated areas and prohibited the sale of cigarettes from vending machines. But there has not been a single fine. Says Westboro’s Health Director Paul R. McNulty: “For all the commotion at the first meetings, people thought we were going to have to call the National Guard. It didn’t happen that way. We get more complaints about overflowing dumpsters than we do about smoking regulations.”

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