SOURCE: Rain City Cigar

July 07, 2008 19:50 ET

Independent Washington Initiative Effort Nearly Succeeds

SEATTLE, WA--(Marketwire - July 7, 2008) - More than 213,000 registered voters in the state of Washington signed petitions by the July 3 deadline in an effort to get Initiative 1016 on the November 8 ballot. The initiative would have permitted smoking in cigar bars, cigar stores and private clubs. Although the number is almost 12,000 short of the required 225,000 needed, organizers are not giving up their battle to modify the state's stringent smoking ban.

"We fell short of our goal... (but) we take great pride in the fact that, without any large money contributed by outside special interest groups, we almost got there," said Joe Arundel, initiative sponsor and owner of Seattle's Rain City Cigar.

Arundel explained that it is rare for an all-volunteer initiative to make it on to the general election. He credits owners of cigar stores, tobacco shops, former cigar bars, private clubs, their patrons and other concerned citizens who took part in the effort to modify the existing ban.

"Just as our opponents failed the first time they tried to pass the current draconian smoking ban, so too will we be back to correct this injustice. We have learned much in the process and we will be better prepared the next time around. Meanwhile, we will continue to work to change the law as it is written, starting with the legislature in January," Arundel said.

"The current ban is not fair to owners and customers of cigar stores and cigar bars and members of private clubs. These locations cater strictly to adults who want to enjoy a legal product -- tobacco, generally, and premium cigars, specifically. No one would go into a cigar store or cigar bar and not expect smoking to be permitted. This is as much a matter of supporting personal rights and fairness as anything else," Arundel said.

"Smokers and non-smokers alike signed our petitions and were prepared to vote 'yes' on the proposed initiative in November. We are only asking for the right to allow smoking in relatively few locations without changing the ban elsewhere. And that's what we'll be asking legislators come January. If they don't listen to us, they'll have to answer to our more than 213,000 registered voters who have already gone on record as supporting the modest changes," Arundel added.

Contact Information

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    Tony Tortorici
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