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Thursday, September 11, 2008


posted by on September 11 at 11:45 AM

By a 5-4 vote, the Washington Supreme Court has rejected an attempt to dodge the state smoking ban, which prohibits smoking in workplaces. The challenge was filed by the American Legion Post 149, a veterans group in Bremerton, to allow smoking in private clubs that have employees—specificaly, its lounge. The majority ruling is here, but the concurrence by Justice Barbara Madsen really nails it.

I agree with the majority opinion and write separately only because I do not want the obvious to be lost: RCW 70.160.030 prohibits smoking “in a public place or in any place of employment.” … The dissenters say that “private facilities” are excluded from the law, regardless of whether people are employed within the facility. If they are correct, then, as the majority points out, an office building that is not open to the public, i.e., a “private facility,” will be excluded from the ban, despite the fact that the building may house hundreds of employees. This defies the “common sense” which the dissenters so liberally call upon, as well as the plain reading of the statute.

Not sure what this means for private clubs where servers and bartenders claim to be “volunteers.”

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