Local military bases ahead of smoking curbs

March 09, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writers Tom Bowman and Bruce Reid contributed to this article.

The ban on smoking in the military workplace announced yesterday by the U.S. Department of Defense may not be as revolutionary as Pentagon officials say, at least not on military installations in Maryland.

Spokesmen for Aberdeen Proving Ground, Fort Meade and the U.S. Naval Academy all said the policy will have little effect on them because they already have restricted smoking.

"For all intents and purposes, we're already there," said Lt. Cmdr. Paul J. Weishaupt, a spokesman for the Naval Academy in Annapolis.

Yesterday, the Pentagon announced its smoking ban would affect more than 2 million military and civilian personnel on bases throughout the world as of April 8.

Smoking would be allowed only in clubs, restaurants, recreation areas, prisons, barracks and family housing.

It is intended to provide a healthy workplace, to improve armed forces' readiness by reducing illness and related costs, and to demonstrate leadership in the movement toward smoke-free workplaces, defense officials said in a press release.

But for the past year, the Naval Academy has been operating under a Navy policy that has barred smoking in most indoor areas, from auditoriums and classrooms to elevators and conference rooms.

John Yaquiant, a spokesman for Aberdeen Proving Ground, said Department of Defense and Army directives issued in 1986 prohibited all workplace smoking except in designated areas. Today, there are few designated smoking areas remaining in any buildings on the installation, Mr. Yaquiant said, forcing smokers to go outside.

"It really shouldn't affect anybody," said a spokesman for the proving ground, Harford's largest employer with nearly 13,000 civilian and military personnel.

Don McClow, a spokesman at Fort Meade in Odenton, said H HTC policy in effect on the base since 1990 restricts smokers to designated areas where second-hand smoke can be isolated to protect nonsmokers.

About 37,850 people live or work at Fort Meade.

Smoking is prohibited in all military vehicles, aircraft, auditoriums, conference rooms, rest rooms, class rooms, child development centers and fitness centers.

"In most Army buildings, you do not have any indoor designated smoking areas," said Army spokeswoman Sgt. 1st Class Dawn Kilpatrick. She said the Army plans to introduce a more restrictive smoking policy in about a month.

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