Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New smoking ban at government offices (USA)

"U.S. government workers will be prohibited from smoking in federal building courtyards or within 25 feet of doorways and air-intake ducts, a new rule says. The policy, to be implemented within six months, also bans designated smoking rooms in federal buildings, General Services Administration said. The rule replaces a 1997 executive order signed by U.S. President Bill Clinton that banned smoking in federal buildings but permitted smoking in designated rooms and nearby outdoor areas. "We see this as a major victory," American Lung Association media relations Director Heather Grzelka told The Washington Post. But National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley said the new rule "fails to recognize" smoking is a disabling addiction for some employees. She told the Post the union might request agencies sponsor programs to help employees quit smoking. The GSA regulation cites studies showing secondhand smoke is harmful to anyone exposed to it. The agency also notes 26 states already ban smoking in state government buildings and 19 states ban smoking in all private workplaces. The new policy doesn't apply to prisons and other federal buildings in which people are "voluntarily or involuntarily residing," a public notice in the U.S. Federal Register said. The policy also lets agency heads establish "limited and narrow exceptions that are necessary to accomplish agency missions." The lung association is concerned this might let smokers establish new footholds in federal buildings, Grzelka said" - UPI

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