Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis W. Sullivan has proposed that President Bush issue an order banning all smoking in federal executive branch agencies and buildings.
The order proposed by Sullivan, who has been crusading against smoking as a public health menace, would not allow special areas to be designated for those who wish to smoke, as is now the case in most federal agencies.The fate of the proposal is uncertain. The order had been under study by the Office of Management and Budget, but sources said Friday that it had been returned to Sullivan, perhaps for responses by HHS to comments on the proposal by other agencies. Both the OMB and HHS declined to discuss the status of the order.
The order would apply not only to federal employees but to anyone visiting federal facilities as well, which means up to 3 million federal employees and millions of visitors daily to federal offices all over the country.
The order would apply to the executive branch but not to Congress or the judicial branch. The order does not include members of the uniformed services unless the Defense Department decides to apply it to them.
The order is strongly opposed by the Tobacco Institute.
"Each department of government at the federal level already has its own smoke policy and I assume they believe it's working well," said institute vice president Walker Merryman. "It seems to me that what works at the Agriculture Department for a county agent office might not work in a high-rise building in Washington."
Two major federal employee unions, the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union, also oppose the order. David Klein, assistant counsel for NTEU, said, "Accommodation should be made on a local level for smokers."