Drugs You Can Smoke 25 Feet from the Door—Even if You’re Inside
posted by June 10 at 14:23 PMon
Check this out: An Olympia bar owner, Frank Schnarrs, wound up in court for allowing a “private” smoking area inside his bar. He’d contended that since patrons paid a dollar to get into a second-floor room where servers claimed to be volunteers, it wasn’t a workplace under state law—but a private club—thus exempting it from the indoor smoking ban. Well, the judge called that a “smokescreen,” but that’s not the end of the story.
Thurston County Superior Court Judge Richard Hicks left the door open for Schnarrs to comply if Schnarrs were able to build an indoor designated smoking area using health criteria on par with outdoor smoking rooms created by other bars.
Under the law, a designated smoking area must be at least 25 feet from any doors, windows or ventilation units that would allow secondhand smoke to pollute nonsmoking areas. Schnarrs’ attorney, Shawn Newman, said Hicks’ ruling recognizes the ambiguity of the state law and so leaves the door open for Schnarrs to come up with a solution.
Darrell Cochran, Thurston County senior environmental health specialist, testified that a hallway to Schnarrs’ second floor was at least 25 feet from the first floor. However, Cochran said he had not measured any of the second-floor windows or air intake and exhaust units.
I’m waiting for a call back from the Attorney General’s office, which is trying to find out whether Schnarrs has found a loophole in the smoking ban. If he has, opening the smoking den will still be like trying to thread a camel though a needle’s eye—he’ll have to prove the area is a private club and not a workplace. If he succeeds, though, you can bet other bar owners will follow, and then the legislature will cinch the loophole.