Smoke if you got ‘em: Washington DC to OK hotel smoking

Non-smokers probably won’t be too excited by the news, but cigar smokers will rejoice. The Washington DC City Council passed a measure last week that eases smoking restrictions on hotels in our nation’s capital. The Special Event Exemption Emergency Act of 2010 carries an amendment that offers a way for hotels to be exempted from the city’s smoking ban. If you prefer your hotels sans puffing, there’s no cause for alarm – the rules are pretty narrow.

Hotels will be allowed to host special cigar-smoking events once a year, as long as at least 500 people are in attendance (which means the venue must be large enough to accommodate this number of guests). Also, the hotel will have to notify the Department of Health and pay a $250 fee. Quite simply, it has to be a pretty hefty occasion.

As with any “emergency” measure, you’d be correct to assume that this law was passed with something specific in mind. In this case, it was the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day dinner, organized by the social organization the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. Historically, the patron saint of Ireland is toasted with brandy and a cigar.

In Washington DC, most emergency legislation lasts for 90 days, but this measure stretches out for 270, as the council also wanted to protect a charity event called Friday Night Fight, which is held on November 11. Last year, it raised more than $2.8 million for Fight for Children.