Washington State Lawmakers May Ease State's Strict Smoking Ban - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Washington State Lawmakers May Ease State's Strict Smoking Ban

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - State lawmakers are looking to ease Washington's strict smoking ban by allowing cigar and pipe smoking for a limited number of tobacco retailers.

A key Senate committee approved a bill Thursday that would permit up to 100 cigar lounges and 500 retail tobacco shops to allow smoking. Cigarettes would still be banned.

Businesses would have to pay annual fees of $17,500 to obtain cigar lounge endorsements and $6,000 to obtain tobacco store endorsements. Supporters say the bill could help some local
businesses hurt by the smoking ban that voters approved in 2005.

Critics say the measure threatens the health of employees and the public. The bill approved by the Senate Ways and Means Committee requires employees to sign acknowledgements accepting that tobacco smoke might be present in their workplace.

      
      (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)
   

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