More than five years after Washington voters banned smoking in most public places, lawmakers are considering making an exception for a limited number of tobacco retailers.
The Senate Labor, Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee on Thursday heard public testimony on a measure that would permit up to 100 cigar lounges and 500 retail tobacco shops to apply for state endorsements to allow cigar and pipe smoking on their premises.
Cigarette smoking still would be banned.
Most of the proceeds from the sale and renewal of endorsements would go to support health care.
Supporters say the bill would bring much-needed revenue to the state. They say most other statewide smoking bans exempt some businesses.
Critics say the bill threatens public health and undermines the will of the majority of voters.