SOURCE: Int'l Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers

March 19, 2008 15:35 ET

Petitioners Seek to Soften Stringent Smoking Ban

SEATTLE, WA--(Marketwire - March 19, 2008) - The nation's most stringent smoking ban may be a bit less stringent if Washington voters say 'yes' to Initiative 1016 on November 8.

To ensure that the Cigar Bar Relief Act of 2008 is on the November ballot, proponents of the measure must gather 225,000 signatures from registered voters by June 30. Petitions are available at most cigar stores, former cigar bars, private clubs like the American Legion and Eagles, and online at www.cigarwa.com, the website of the Cigar Association of Washington.

"Smokers and non-smokers alike should sign our petitions and vote 'yes' on November 8 because we are only asking for the right to allow smoking in relatively few locations without changing the ban elsewhere," says Dale Taylor, a tobacconist with Rain City Cigar in Seattle and president of the Cigar Association of Washington which is coordinating the campaign for the initiative.

The current ban prohibits smoking in all public places including restaurants, bars, bowling alleys and non-tribal casinos.

"A 'yes' vote for Initiative 1016 would allow cigar shops, cigar bars and private clubs like the Veterans of Foreign Wars, as well as service organizations such as the Elks, Lions and others a choice to allow smoking if they so choose without changing the ban elsewhere," says Taylor.

Under the proposed initiative, a cigar bar would be defined as a bar where the serving of food is only incidental and where on-site sales of cigars generate $25,000 or more in annual gross income.

Private facilities -- such as those used by adult service clubs and, for example, the American Legion -- would also be exempted from the ban if they so choose except when they are occasionally open to the public.

"It's important to remember that the initiative does not overturn the existing ban," Taylor emphasized. "We are only seeking to give the choice to allow smoking in relatively few locations such as cigar bars, cigar stores and private clubs. These exemptions exist in most other states and we believe it is reasonable to request voters to allow them in Washington as well."

Taylor is urging all Washington residents who are registered voters to sign the petitions by June 30 to get the measure placed on November's ballot.

"This is the democratic process at work," said Taylor.

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