The bill that would allow cigar smokers in Washington state to light up in retail cigar stores and cigar lounges took a big step forward on Thursday, passing the House Committee on Commerce & Gaming with a 9-0 vote.

Joe Arundel, president of the Cigar Association of Washington, heralded the vote and said that he thought it sent a strong message for the bill’s chances. It’s the third time that a bill has been introduced in the legislature to allow for smoking in cigar stores and lounges, but both of the previous attempts have failed. In this version, the licensing fees have been drastically reduced, and as such gives the bill a different path to the House floor.

Washington is one of a small number of states where smoking is prohibited in cigar stores.

The bill is now scheduled for an executive session in the House Committee on Commerce & Gaming at 9:00 am on Feb. 5 in anticipation of other legislative action. Arundel had previously told halfwheel that he anticipated it would also need to clear the House Rules Committee.

Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.