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Workplace Smoking Bill Burns Health Officials

State health and safety officials on Thursday lambasted a House bill they say would lift Washington’s ban on smoking in private offices and leave the question up to employers and their workers.

And a senator said the measure’s future was “pretty grim” if it reached his committee.

Even the bill’s sponsor, House Commerce and Labor Chairwoman Barbara Lisk, R-Zillah, was cautious Thursday about the measure’s fate. The bill’s purpose, she said, “is to sort of throw it out there to see how heavy should the hand of government be when it decides what is good for us and what is bad for us.”

She said she did not know if the panel would ever approve the bill, which was supported by a handful of citizens, most of them declared smokers.

The bill, HB1066, would abolish the Department of Labor and Industry’s ban on smoking in private offices, a rule that permits puffing in office buildings only in special rooms with strict ventilation requirements laid down by L&I.;

Instead, the bill would allow employers and workers to agree to set aside a smoking area to be ventilated at a level decided by the employers and workers.