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Senate no puffing zone includes entrances

June 12, 2012 at 10:58 AM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, June 12 (UPI) -- Smokers no longer can take shelter from the elements at entrances to the U.S. Senate wing of the Capitol under new rules enacted before the Memorial Day break.

But a low-key approach to enacting the Rules and Administration Committee's new policy means not much has changed in smoking habits and enforcement as news filters its way to smokers and enforcers alike, Roll Call reported Tuesday.

Under the new regulations, smoking is banned within 25 feet of all entrances to Senate office buildings and within all public indoor spaces under Senate jurisdiction.

"The new policy is in response to steady complaints from members of the Senate community [and visitors] about having to regularly contend with second-hand smoke when entering and exiting the Senate office buildings," a Rules and Administration aide told Roll Call via e-mail.

When asked about the new rules, some said it was the first they heard of them and other said they knew about the change but were waiting to see it enforced.

Designated smoking areas inside Senate office buildings were closed in 2008 after Democratic Sens. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Dick Durbin of Illinois and Jack Reed of Rhode Island lobbied Rules and Administration to do so.

Lautenberg Monday praised the decision to expand the ban to office buildings' exteriors.

"Creating a smoke-free perimeter will protect workers and visitors to the Senate office buildings," Lautenberg said in a statement to Roll Call. "This has been an ongoing effort to ... set a national example for a smoke-free workplace, and I am pleased the Rules Committee has taken this important step."

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