Federal Personnel Office Says Proposed GSA Restrictions Go Too Far
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Office of Personnel Management said Tuesday that proposed restrictions on smoking in federal buildings go too far and should not be enacted.
People now are permitted to smoke in all areas of federal buildings except those designated as non-smoking.
The General Services Administration wants to reverse that and allow smoking only in designated areas in the 6,800 buildings it operates around the country, extending restrictions into worker offices.
In a letter to GSA administrator Terence Golden, OPM director Constance Horner said the regulations would be difficult to implement and enforce.
″While we believe a centralized smoking restriction policy is appropriate for general use areas such as classrooms, corridors and elevators, such a policy is highly problematic for employee office space,″ the letter said.
The letter said each agency should be able to work out its own policy on smoking in offices and that OPM has ″full confidence in the ability of individual federal managers to handle the smoking issue among their own employees, accommodating the preferences of both smokers and non-smokers.″
″We need to provide employees with an increased understanding of the dangers of smoking, and encourage individual, voluntary restraint,″ the letter said.
Joe Slye, a spokesman for GSA, said 90 percent of all comments received thus far support the agency’s smoking proposal as drafted. ″Remember, 70 percent of the federal workforce do not smoke,″ Slye said.
But OPM spokesman James Lafferty said enforcing the regulations would be very difficult.
″We don’t think it’s possible to enforce a specific foot-by-foot ban on smoking in federal buildings and we don’t think that is desirable,″ Lafferty said. ″The whole thrust of the administration is for people to take individual responsibility.″
The public comment period on the proposal ends Thursday. Slye said the GSA will consider all comments and make a decision on final regulations in the fall.