Russia and Costa Rica dispute lawfulness of smoking ban at UN HQ

Russia and Costa Rica are heading the campaign for lifting a ban on smoking at the UN headquarters which was officially announced a month ago by the UN Secretary General.

On their initiative a group of diplomats engaged in administrative and budget affairs addressed Kofi Annan at a session of the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly on Thursday with a request to present a juridical substantiation of this decision.

Having banned the UN Secretariat personnel to puff away at the headquarters of the league of nations, Kofi Annan sent a letter to the diplomatic missions insistently recommending their staff as well as foreign diplomats to refrain from smoking at the premises on the East River.

The UN Secretary General explained his decision by concern for the personnel's health and the need to lower insurance costs, as the sky-scraper built 50 years ago was not equipped with an automatic system of fire extinguishing.

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