Passengers upset because they can't smoke on domestic airliners might travel to a corner of the cafeteria at the agency that regulates airlines, the Federal Aviation Administration.
Despite Transportation Secretary Samuel K. Skinner's announced ban on smoking in any Transportation Department building, FAA Administrator James B. Busey has decided to allow smoking in one 50-by-50-foot area of the cafeteria at the FAA building at 800 Independence Ave. SW. Adequate ventilation and partitions will be installed, the FAA said. Busey is considering other limited exceptions in the building.
Skinner had ordered a smoke-free DOT by last Saturday, a policy implemented in the main DOT building. The National Transportation Safety Board, which occupies the 8th floor of the FAA building, also won't allow smoking on its territory. Skinner meanwhile has initiated stop-smoking classes and has ordered supervisors to treat employees attempting to quit in a "special, caring way," a spokesman said.
But Busey, who smokes five cigarettes -- not packs -- each day, sent a memo to employees Friday saying that although the ban will go into effect in almost the entire building, the northwest corner of the cafeteria will be an exception "to initially accommodate smokers." He said he will reevaluate the policy in six months.
Busey based his decision partly on a survey of the building's residents. Of the 1,300 who replied -- about one-third of those working in the building -- 67 percent said they favored a smoking area. Only 30 percent of them said they were smokers.
An FAA source said Busey consulted Skinner on his decision.
Was Skinner upset? "He didn't seem to be," said a DOT source.