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BEST CIGAR SHOP/TOBACCONIST Minneapolis 1999 -

For those who sell smokes, it's been an ugly year. First the state slapped suppliers with a precedent-setting lawsuit, then the cigar craze peaked, giving way to martini bars, '50s music, and swing dancing. To top it off, another wave of health "experts" conspired to rain on the fun. Still, the folks at Lewis Pipe & Tobacco, a downtown staple since 1949, keep on puffing. The metro's sidewalk addicts, always jonesin' for some Luckies or the sweet smell of a stogy, couldn't be happier. Owner Rich Lewis's humidors are stacked with fine cigars from the world over, priced to fit both the hungry student and stuffed suit. The hard-to-find, Cuban-like Davidoffs, distributed by a Swiss company after being hand-rolled in the Dominican Republic, are always fresh and ready to fire. And in the basement, Lewis still crafts handmade pipes, which he sells to collectors at local and regional conventions for between $100 and $400. "Yeah, things around here haven't changed much, except for that latest report that says women who smoke are more likely to have criminal children," Lewis says with a chuckle. "So we've got that going for us."

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