Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Pelosi bans smoking in the Capitol's Speaker's Lobby. End of smoke filled room


With the new year ushering in a D.C. smoking ban, House members could take refuge in puffing away in the Speaker's lobby, an ornate room next to the House chamber. Members, reporters and staffers hang out there during votes.

Not any more. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday banned smoking in the lobby to save all from exposure to secondhand smoke.

"The days of smoke-filled rooms in the United States Capitol are over,'' said Pelosi in a statement making a substantive and symbolic point.

This is the release from Pelosi's office

Pelosi: 'The Days of Smoke-filled Rooms in the United States Capitol Are Over'

Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement this morning concerning smoking in the Speaker's Lobby:

"The days of smoke-filled rooms in the United States Capitol are over.

"Medical science has unquestionably established the dangerous effects of secondhand smoke, including an increased risk of cancer and respiratory diseases. I am a firm believer that Congress should lead by example. Effective immediately, smoking will no longer be permitted in the Speaker's Lobby of the United States Capitol.

"Recently, the District of Columbia banned smoking in public areas, such as restaurants and other establishments, and I applaud the District for joining the dozens of other major cities, including my home town of San Francisco, in recognizing the need to protect the public from secondhand smoke.

"As Members of Congress, we must be held to a higher standard. We can no longer risk the health of colleagues, staff, pages, reporters and others who pass through the Speaker's Lobby each day."

# # #


Another asinine remark and move by Pelosi. If she is worried about second hand smoke, then don't go into the area where it is, I don't.

Bravo Madame Speaker - ignore the idiots who refuse to accept that public health concerns are precisely that - and I'm a former smoker. Let 'em huddle outside in the elements if they are so addicted to it.

Wow, don't go to the lobby by her office? What a stupid remark.

It's about time. Smokers should have a totally separate room where no one but they have to breathe in their trash. Or they should control themselves and smoke in their car or at home, not on public property.

I appauld Pelosi. It is her "Speaker's Lobby" you idiot, she is Speaker of the House.


Any and all who are welcomed to the Speaker's Lobby for any reason should be able enjoy it smoke-free.

About time. Period.

Great logic, Max--force the "colleagues, staff, pages, reporters and others who pass through the Speaker's Lobby each day" to expose themselves to second-hand smoke just so they can do their jobs!

You're crazy Max - Speaker Pelosi has every right to make the "Speaker's Lobby" smoke free. You should join the 21st century.

Hopefully Speaker Pelosi will also make the White House a smoke free building soon (hint, hint)

Impeach Bush & Cheney now!!

Good for her. Another common sense decision.

Let the smokers go somewhere else; this is a room for everyone, not a smokers lounge. And let's end taxpayer costs for healthcare for members of Congress and Senate who smoke cigarettes. Why should we pay for their dangerous behavior?

Max.. The speaker of the house should avoid her own lobby? Do you think before you comment?

As a self loathing smoker, I think this is a great idea. I was initially against banning smoking in resturants and bars, but after a recent trip to Vegas, it was even harder to breathe.

It's a difference you can only tell after a while of experiencing it.

Now as a Californian, stepping outside for a smoke isn't as chilling an idea as being someplace where it snows.

Smoking in workplaces is a uneeded distraction.

It's the Speaker's lounge, Pelosi is the Speaker, so she can say what is or is not acceptible, just as any corporate CEO can at the place of business.

good for her, anyone who still smokes is a loon and a hospital bed away from a death sentence. i would have done the same thing.

dear asinine, so you would not go to your job if there was second hand smoke???? another asinine comment.

Great job. Comment about leading by example (in regards to second hand smoke) is very relevant. Keep up the good work Nancy.

And now smokers must do it outside where they have less chance of bothering one of the non-smokers, sounds fair to me. Sounds like Max must be one of those 'asinine' smokers.

Another victory for people who prefer breathing oxygen to breathing other people's carcinogens. Go Ms Pelosi!

Every other workplace banned smoking inside 15 years ago. It's way past time!

Wrong! This is a seemingly insignificant but brilliant reform by our new House Speaker. The Speaker's Lobby is a publicly-funded room, and I very much agree with Pelosi that tax dollars should not be spent on encouraging people to smoke. Not to mention: I love the little jab at the iconic "smoke-filled rooms." Well played.

Hey Max...Go outside & hack up a lung for us. You should be thankful she didn't restrict chewing tobacco too.

let the smokers smoke in their home and polute their own property. Not anywhere else. Smoking in a car would be okay but the nasty selfish jerks toss their still burnning garbage out their windows and the stuff stakes up on the side of roads or on other people's property.

i think it was Bill Hicks or Dennis Leary one who said, "so what's next? you can only smoke in your room, with the lights out, and the covers over your head?". sounds good to me. my wife smokes (i quit about six years ago), and she has the decency to go outside or down in the basement so that our children don't have to breathe that poison. i wish every smoker were so thoughtful instead of, "what? i can't poison you while i kill myself?".

I quit smoking in 1959, the biggest favor I ever did for me and the public.
My sister died of second hand smoke thanks to her 'Lucky Strike' addicted home polluting husband.
Cigarette smoke to a recovered nicotine addict is the most offensive odor.

To those of you who respond
to Max. Cease and desist!
The man is a nincompoop and is only looking for attention. MB

Yes Ron, I would NOT go to a job where there was second-hand smoke and neither should you. Cigarette smoke causes cancer, this debate is over. Anyway, where are you working that you are exposed to smoke in this day and age - is that still actually happening somewhere -seems incredible to me.

I'm a Democrat, and I like Ms. Pelosi, but this is really silly - and from a woman from a state (CA) with the worst air quality in the USA (even tho smoking has been banned in most places since the mid-90's). Also, how does one explain the INCREASING rates of asthma and other respiratory illnesses in the US, when smokers' numbers have materially declined? Maybe second hand smoke really is NOT the problem.

Go on ya, Madam Speaker! Smoking is not a right, but being free from the pollutants of others should be. The smokers are free to pollute their own bodies if they want, on their own property. Public places should all be smoke free.

Smoking is banned in federal buildings everywhere but congress?!! Who the hell do they think are to insist on violating the laws they make? No more old-boys' club--the madam is cleaning house.

"It's called the Speaker's lobby" Is a ridiculous argument.

Ask a bar owner in chicago, it's their bar, they own it, who gives the government the right to say who can and can't smoke in it.

This anti-smoking crap is just another example of the government intruding in our lives.
Now news that parts of Main have banned smoking in cars... Ridiculous. In 50 years people will laugh at how dumb our law makers were.

Hey Mark, so how do you feel about warrentless wiretaps, or warrentless opening of personal mail? If you're so concerned about government intrusion in our lives (not to mention our bedrooms) why aren't you marching to throw the bastards in the WH out on their ears?? If you're gonna bitch about govt intrusion, pick something other than telling people they can't smoke!

I was at the doctor's office today and the CNN Health channel or network was playing on the tube as you find in every doctor's office these days. On comes the Surgeon General who says emphatically, twice, "there is no safe level of second hand cigarette smoke---even a single exposure, at any age."

It is a public health issue.

Pelosi is right to protect the public health.

Or they will laugh at you for not knowing how to spell MainE.

Good. Now congress can do what every other working american has to do when they smoke. Go outside.

People still smoke?

bravo, Madame Speaker.

abbiex- I don't have to show my mail to get into bars. You'r comparing apples to oranges. Plus I don't have terrorists sending me mail, or druggies calling my house, so people can look all they want, I have nothing to hide.
Plus, aren't you being hypocritical crying about wiretaps, but applauding the anti-smoking junk then??
I have to stop trying to debate with you people, you can't read points for what they are, and you can't make them.

The first comment posted. The one by some genius called Max... Are you a White House staff member? Your reasoning sure would lead one to believe that!


Yes LEO - we're even fighting to protect flotsam like you so you can make dimwit comments!

1st poster Max is typical clueless neocon. enjoy your lung cancer, loser.

good idea. that stuff can kill you.

Thanks Madame Speaker. Clear all the smoke real or imagined. Lead by example and we will all breath a lot easier.

Right On! Should have been done long ago!

Everyone- Let's discount every point on this board that is not flamingly liberal!!! Us liberals are too smart to debate with these little nobodies claiming to have a voice! We will continue to win over people by continuing to take away personal choice!!!

To folks who say that the government needs to "butt out..." Why should we cater to 25% of the pop just because they smoke? I understand that it is someone's right to smoke...but it is my right to breathe smoke-free air. Also, as a tax payer who is going to absorb the costs of the toll of smoking via health care...I'm all for banning it everywhere that it can affect othes.

Public health experts agree this definition is incomplete. WBR LeoP

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets


Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on January 10, 2007 8:15 AM.

McCain, Obama to debate Iraq troop boost Sunday. was the previous entry in this blog.

Durbin, Obama to react to Bush Iraq speech tonight. Very different venues. is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.