Stogie smokers, your time may have come.
Bills were read Friday in both the State House and Senate that would allow cigar smoking in public places.
The bills, introduced on the cold ashes of the controversial closure of a cigar lounge at Tacoma’s El Gaucho steakhouse, stipulate that those establishments seeking a smoking license meet several requirements.
Among those, a proprietor would:
• Pay a fee of either $15,000 or $5,000;
• Construct a smoking facility that is separated from areas where smoking is prohibited;
• Provide proof of a ventilation system;
• Not allow cigarette smoking;
• Not allow smokers under the age of 18;
• Certify that employees accept that smoking will be allowed.
Fees collected under the law would go both to a basic health plan trust account and for administration of the licensing.
The Senate bill has been referred to the Committee on Labor, Commerce and Consumer Protection; and the House bill to the Committee on Business and Financial Services.
I’ll try to speak with El Gaucho founder (and cigar afficianado) Paul Mackay next week, and I’ll keep you posted on the progress of the bills.