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Clinton Bans Smoking In All Federal Buildings

Clinton radio address graphic

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Aug. 9) -- President Bill Clinton outlawed smoking in all federal buildings Saturday, saying the executive order would protect thousands of employees and tourists from potentially harmful secondhand smoke. But in a surprise move, the president didn't banish smokers from government-owned doorways and courtyards. (331K wav sound)

"Our federal workers and the thousands of people who visit federal facilities will now be protected from the risk of secondhand smoke," the president said in his weekly radio broadcast from the Oval Office.

"Americans who've made the choice not to use tobacco products should not be put at risk by those who choose to smoke. With this step we're taking today, millions of Americans will be able to breathe just a little easier."


Clinton gave agencies a year to comply. More than 15 federal agencies already ban indoor smoking.

An early draft of the executive order would have banned smoking within 50 feet of government buildings, but the final version had that aspect deleted. Administration officials suggested earlier this week that an outdoor ban would be included, but Clinton's order gives agency heads discretion to "evaluate the need" for such restrictions and impose them if necessary. (171K wav sound)

"After a lengthy review by the interagency process, we concluded it was better that that decision be left to the director of the agency," Rahm Emanuel, senior adviser to the president, said Saturday.

Outdoor smoking will be prohibited only in front of building air-intake valves. Indoor smoking will be permitted in enclosed, separately ventilated areas.

"Secondhand smoke isn't just unpleasant. It is a risk to the public health," said Vice President Al Gore, who joined Clinton for the radio broadcast. "We've got to do more to protect people from secondhand smoke in our public places and clean up the air that all of us share."

Clinton's order would not affect offices outside the executive branch -- federal court buildings and congressional offices.

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