U.N. headquarters targeted in new anti-smoking drive

Thu Nov 6, 2008 6:45pm EST
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By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. General Assembly has ordered Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to put an end to smoking at U.N. headquarters in New York, widely seen as a tobacco safe haven in an otherwise smoke-free metropolis.

The assembly told Ban to implement a ban on smoking and on the sale of tobacco products inside the building, Enrique Yeves, spokesman for General Assembly President Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann, told reporters on Thursday.

He said the demand came in a nonbinding resolution passed unanimously by the 192 U.N. member states earlier this week.

"It is up to the secretariat now ... to decide what kind of realistic measures can be taken for this to be implemented," Yeves told reporters.

Word of the General Assembly's anti-smoking resolution had yet to reach all corners of the 40-story building.

In the U.N. Delegates Lounge, a cloud of cigarette smoke hovered over clusters of diplomats and U.N. staff puffing tobacco and sipping coffee.

Several of them told Reuters they had not heard of the resolution but added that they doubted Ban would succeed.

Although the United Nations is headquartered in New York, a statewide smoking ban does not apply to the Manhattan compound because it is considered international territory.   Continued...

<p>United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks during a news conference in New Delhi October 31, 2008. REUTERS/B Mathur</p>