Gsa Plans Smoking Ban In Offices Health Cited In New Rule Covering 6,800 Federal Buildings

Posted: May 23, 1986

WASHINGTON — The General Services Administration announced plans yesterday to ban smoking in the 6,800 federal buildings it manages nationwide.

It cited both health and annoyance to nonsmokers as it published its proposal in the Federal Register. The plan will be open to comment for 60 days before it could take effect.

The rule would ban smoking in general office space, auditoriums, classrooms, conference rooms, corridors, lobbies, restrooms, elevators, libraries and hazardous areas.

The agency said it "also recognizes the rights of individuals to smoke in such buildings, provided such action does not cause discomfort or unreasonable annoyance to nonsmokers or infringe upon their rights."

Designated smoking areas would be established in cafeterias and vending machine areas, and private offices could be designated smoking areas if their occupants desired.

Managers of federal offices in rental buildings would be encouraged to develop similar restrictions.

GSA Administrator Terence Golden previewed the new regulations at the opening of a two-day Regional Conference on Public Employee Fitness and Health, sponsored by the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

He said cigarette smoking had been blamed for about 340,000 premature deaths annually, with direct medical costs totaling more than $23 billion.

In addition to the danger of cancer, heart disease and other problems for smokers themselves, the GSA noted that "current scientific evidence suggests that exposure to cigarette smoke can be hazardous to nonsmokers and may create a potential hazard to those suffering from heart and respiratory diseases or allergies."

"Smoking has begun to infringe on the health interests of nonsmokers in the work place," Golden said. "No longer is it the right of the individual to smoke without regard for the health concerns of those who work in the same area."

The American Federation of Government Employees, representing 700,000 federal workers, said the issue should be addressed "through the collective bargaining process where both smokers and nonsmokers are accommodated" and criticized the plan for failing to provide help to employees in quitting smoking.

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