AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESurfer attacked by shark near Channel Islands calls rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’And that’s bad news for outgoing Majority Leader John Boehner, a chain smoker who even has his own smoking perch, known as the “Boehner Bench,” in the Speaker’s Lobby. “To me, it has been a ridiculous anomaly that smoking is permitted there,” Waxman said. “It means that people who are working there have to breathe smoke in.” Luckily for Boehner, however, he still sits on the three-member commission that must agree to the change. His staff did not return a request for comment this week. Others, in the meantime, say they smell the whiff of change in the Capitol, which has exempted itself from the District of Columbia’s anti-smoking regulations set to take effect in January. “I think the march is on,” said Bruce Cain, president of the University of California Washington Center. “I think Waxman will prevail.” Added American Enterprise Institute congressional scholar Norman Ornstein: “It’s not going to make Henry a lot of additional friends. You’ve got a lot of smokers in Congress and maybe those who smoke are powerful people, and for them it’s like their home.” Anti-smoking groups, however, already are hailing the move. “Henry Waxman has a long history of being a champion for public health. He knows what the science is, that no exposure to secondhand smoke is safe,” said Bill Corr, director of the D.C.-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and a former Waxman aide. Not only should lawmakers be held to the same laws as others, Corr said, “Congress’ obligation is to set the standard.” But smokers-rights advocates say Waxman’s efforts are just one more example of the nanny state they believe America is becoming. “Representative Waxman would basically like to ban smoking from the entire world,” Michael Fadden, mid-Atlantic regional director of The Smoker’s Club Inc., said in an e-mailed statement. “The way he’s going about it, by `dragging out the children’ in claiming concern about young congressional pages who might possibly walk by someone who is smoking, is completely typical of the antismoking lobby. “Radical antismoking groups are already pushing for bans in private apartments and condos, and this action is just closing up some of the loopholes that have been left behind,” he said. Bill Phelps, a spokesman for Phillip Morris, said the manufacturer of brands including Marlboro and Benson & Hedges has no problem with Waxman’s goal. “We understand and agree that people should be able to avoid being around secondhand smoke, particularly in places where they must go. Public buildings would be one example of that,” Phelps said, noting that includes the U.S. Capitol. It remains unclear whether any ban would also include the balcony located outside of the Speaker’s Lobby. But if Waxman has his way, smoking will be off-limits there as well. Said Waxman of outdoor smokers: “They feel they have the right over everyone else to use up the air.” [email protected] (202) 662-8731 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Just as California has taken the lead in enacting some of the nation’s most stringent bans on public smoking, Capitol Hill has remained a sanctuary for politicians who want to light up. But California sensitivities now appear poised to strike there, as well. Los Angeles Democrat Henry Waxman, a former smoker, has long sought to end smoking in an ornate lounge just off the U.S. House chambers known as the Speaker’s Lobby.
Political winds may clear the air