SEATTLE -- The Boeing Co. announced Friday it will ban smoking in all company offices throughout the United States starting July 1.
'This is our biggest step so far,' company spokesman Lee Lathrop said of the policy announced in company newsletters and employee meetings the past two days.
The ban will apply to all company offices -- management, clerical, engineering, accounting and marketing -- but smoking still will be allowed in factories.
Lathrop had no figures on how many Boeing employees would be affected by the newest extension of the no-smoking policy but said they number in the 'tens of thousands.' He noted that the 'vast majority' of Boeing's 115,000 workers nationwide are employed in offices covered by the policy.
In April 1984 Boeing announced a smoking ban for areas such as libraries, hallways and conference rooms. The company also rid facilities of cigarette machines and instituted stop-smoking classes, saying it was working toward a goal of prohibiting smoking in all work areas.
The smoking prohibition was extended to Boeing Computer Services and Boeing Electronics in July 1986.
'We wanted to see how it worked, and it worked pretty smoothly,' Lathrop said of the earlier bans. 'This is the next logical step. The only areas open to smoking are factory production areas where smoking was allowed before.
Lathrop said 72 percent of the Boeing workforce are non-smokers.
'I would expect reaction to this latest ban to be overwhelmingly positive,' he said, but he stopped short of saying smoking would be banished from every corner of the giant aerospace firm.
'We have set that as a goal, but there are options within that policy,' he said.