Smoke-free federal buildings bill closes smoking loophole

Friday - 11/11/2011, 8:23am EST

By Jack Moore
Federal News Radio

A new bill would ban smoking in and near all federal buildings, closing a loophole that exempted many federal buildings from a 2008 directive.

Last week, Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) introduced the "Smoke-Free Federal Buildings Act which bans smoking within 25 feet of all federal buildings owned, leased or leased for use by an executive agency.

"Exposure to secondhand smoke is a serious health issue that drives up health care costs for all of us," Davis said in a release. "Federal workers should be able to work in a healthy, smoke-free environment."

Davis' press secretary told Government Executive she decided to introduce the bill after President Barack Obama declined to issue an executive order in 2009.

Smoking in federal buildings was first restricted by a 1997 Clinton Administration Executive Order. That directive banned smoking in federal buildings but designated some areas where workers could smoke.

In 2008, the General Services Administration updated its Federal Management Regulations, ending designated smoking areas and setting a 25-foot perimeter. However, that directive only applied to buildings "under the jurisdiction, custody or control of GSA."

Davis' bill is similar to the GSA guidance but closes the loophole to include leased buildings that aren't administered by GSA.

An American Lung Association official told GovExec research shows GSA's 2008 policy applies to only 30 percent of buildings in which federal employees work.