Washington State Legislature
9:50 am
Tue May 17, 2011

Cigar smokers push for space of their own

Cigar aficionados could light up at their favorite bar under a bill up for a vote in the Washington Senate this week. The measure would allow cigar lounges in some bars and tobacco stores. But opponents of the change say it would overturn the will of Washington voters.

In 2005, Washington overwhelming approved a ballot initiative banning all types of smoking in public spaces. The exception being considered in the state Senate would allow bars and tobacco stores to have separate ventilated cigar rooms.

Opponents worry about the secondhand smoke the lounge employees would breathe in. That doesn't concern Tom Dooley with the Cigar Association of Washington.

 "Frankly, we’re astonished the other side would say that people who are applying for a job at a cigar store, which is clearly identified as a cigar lounge or a tobacco store are doing so under so under some kind of duress."

 Says Erin Dziedzic with the American Cancer Society of Washington:

"Right, but I don't believe in this economy, someone's turning down that job."

 If the bill passes, cigar lounge employees would have to sign a waiver saying they are aware of the dangers of secondhand smoke.

One activity the bill would not allow in cigar lounges: cigarette smoking.

On the Web:

Cigar lounge bill (SB 5542):
http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=5542&year=2011

Washington smoking ban:
http://www.secstate.wa.gov/elections/initiatives/text/i901.pdf

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