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Eye On Olympia

Three years after voters approve smoking ban, efforts continue to end-run it…

From the print paper:

Walk up the stairs above Frankie’s bar in Olympia, and it’s like stepping back to 2005.

Bar patrons are talking over tall mugs of beer, nothing unusual about that. But there are ashtrays – ashtrays! – on the tables. And a slight smoky haze hangs in the air, as people happily puff away on cigarettes and cigars. Three years after voters overwhelmingly approved Washington’s toughest-in-the-nation smoking ban, a handful of bar owners, clubs and others continue to seek ways around it.

Among their recent efforts:

•An American Legion post in Bremerton has a case before the state Supreme Court, arguing that the ban was never intended to apply to private clubs.

•Frankie’s owner Frank Schnarrs has been in court for two years, arguing that his upstairs bar is actually a members-only club, and that the servers are volunteers.

•Cigar fans gathered tens of thousands of signatures this year in an unsuccessful effort to restore smoking in cigar stores and smoke shops.

“This is not about smoking,” Schnarrs said. “This is about freedom of choice.”

Full story is here.

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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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