SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Navy Lodge facilities worldwide have been phasing out smoking in guest rooms for several years but they’re still a bit behind the curve when it comes to banning smoking in military guest housing facilities.

As of March 1, guests at all Army lodging facilities will have to go outside to smoke; smoking was banned at Air Force guest rooms and common areas in 2001, according to officials.

“Every new and renovated Navy Lodge is a nonsmoking facility,” said Michael Bockelman, Navy Lodge Program director. “If a property has smoking rooms, they will remain that way until which time the property is renovated.”

Smoking is permitted on balconies and patios of individual rooms as well as designated areas outside of the hotel, he said.

The three Navy Lodges in Asia all are in Japan. Navy Lodges at Sasebo Naval Base, Atsugi Naval Air Facility and Yokosuka Naval Base have 58, 88 and 165 rooms respectively. At all three facilities, smoking or nonsmoking rooms can be requested but not guaranteed, according to the Navy Lodge Web site.

“We are currently renovating or getting ready to renovate Atsugi and Yokosuka. Once finished, they will be nonsmoking facilities,” said Navy Exchange Service Command spokeswoman Kristine Sturkie.

“Navy Lodges have been going nonsmoking for a number of years,” Bockelman said. “Navy Lodges worldwide all follow the same practices for quality guest satisfaction.”

In addition to the three lodges in Japan, NEXCOM operates five other Navy Lodges outside the United States including one each in Cuba, Iceland and Spain and two in Italy.

“The Navy Lodge Program is known for its consistency worldwide,” Bockelman said. “Like (with) any good hotel company, the guest wants to know what to expect when they arrive.”

A smoking ban ordered in 1997, through an executive order signed by President Clinton, affected smokers at U.S. military installations worldwide. The order, titled “Protecting Federal Employees and the Public From Exposure to Tobacco Smoke in the Federal Workplace,” was to be phased in for all interior space owned, rented or leased by the government — except residential buildings.

In 2002, for instance, Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities had either to prohibit smoking indoors or install an expensive ventilation system that funnels smoke outside.

As residential facilities, the Navy Lodges are exempt from the mandatory no-smoking order.

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