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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 September, 2003, 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK
Envoy fumes at UN cigarette ban
Official smokes outside UN building
All UN staff now have to go outside for a smoke
Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Sergei Lavrov has lashed out at a recent smoking ban at the UN.

Mr Lavrov told Moscow's Izvestiya newspaper that Secretary General Kofi Annan had no authority to stop diplomats from lighting up.

Mr Annan has approved a ban on smoking in all UN premises from 1 September.

"The UN secretary general can by all means tell his underlings what to do but not members of diplomatic missions," Mr Lavrov said.

The ambassador, a smoker, said the ban was obviously designed to please New York mayor Michael Bloomberg - who has pushed through a strict ban on smoking in public places in the city.

Russian ambassador to the UN Sergei Lavrov (UN picture)
The UN building is owned by all the member-nations, while the secretary general is just a hired manager
Sergei Lavrov
"Imposing the code of behaviour of a city on the UN building is totally absurd," Mr Lavrov added.

The Russian envoy expressed support for the earlier rules, which "discouraged" smoking in large conference halls and banned it in small halls.

Smoking was permitted in bars, cafeteria and other areas.

Mr Lavrov said delegations knew "full well" that the new rules were "not legally binding on anybody".

"The UN building is owned by all the member-nations, while the secretary general is just a hired manager," he said.

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