Dem lawmakers seek to end smoking in all federal buildings

Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) and four other House Democrats on Friday proposed legislation that would completely ban smoking in and around all federal buildings.

The Smoke-Free Buildings Act, H.R. 3382, would build upon a 1997 executive order that banned smoking in most areas of federal buildings, but still allowed for smoking sections. Davis said that decision doesn't fully eliminate the risk of secondhand smoke.

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"President Clinton's order was a great first step," Davis said. "But it's time to take the next step and eliminate all smoking in federal buildings. Despite setting aside certain areas for smoking, we know that people still get exposed to secondhand smoke."

Under the bill, no smoking at all would be allowed in or within 25 feet of all federal buildings, a ban that would take effect 90 days after the bill becomes law. It allows each agency to decide how to enforce the ban, and allows for exceptions only related to "research that may benefit public health."

The findings section of the bill says that tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, of which dozens are carcinogens, and says secondhand smoke is responsible for "almost 50,000 deaths in the United States each year." It also points out that the surgeon general of the U.S. has found there is "no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke," and that creating smoke-free workplaces is the only way to eliminate exposure.

Co-sponsors to the bill are Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Del. Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa), Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) and Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.).

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