OLYMPIA, Wash. – Non-smokers would not be allowed to work at cigar lounges under a bill debated at the state Capitol this week.
Applicants would have to take a blood test to prove they are tobacco users in House Bill 1919, sponsored by Rep. Brandon Vick, R-Clark County.
“I don’t believe if you’re not a cigar smoker you’re going to even apply for a job in a cigar lounge,” said Vick.
State law allows private smoking clubs, paid for by dues-paying members, but cigar sellers and restaurant owners have repeatedly tried to get the state to allow smoking lounges on their property.
Critics have raised concerns that the lounges would force non-smokers to be exposed to second-hand smoke.
That’s why Vick said he proposed prohibiting non-smokers from working in those spaces.
The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network called the proposal “outrageous.”
“It’s a workplace safety issue,” said ACSCAN Vice President of Government Relations Barbara Flye. “Employees deserve the right to breathe clean air whether they’re a smoker or not.”
Flye is involved with tobacco and cancer-related legislation in six U.S. states and has never heard of a bill making smoking a job requirement.
She said the law would encourage people to smoke and discourage them from quitting.
Vick said if an employee working in a smoking lounge were to quit using tobacco they could not be fired and would have to be reassigned to another job within the establishment.
He also said he is willing to drop the blood test requirement and have job applicants sign affidavits saying they are smokers.
Vick believes passing the bill would be good for the state’s cigar industry and for consenting adults who want to smoke cigars somewhere other than their own properties.