While smoking in the workplace is prohibited in most of America’s businesses, Reynolds American has continued to stand firm that their employees have the right to light up at work. But this week, the Big Tobacco company responsible for the Camel and Pall Mall cigarette brands announced that they are changing their policy and employees won’t be able to smoke in the office anymore starting in 2015. It’s the ultimate hypocrisy that the company pays people to make cigarettes, but will not allow them to be used in the offices.
Spokesman David Howard said the company was changing the policy as a courtesy to workers that do not smoke. “We made this decision because the vast majority of adults in the US don’t smoke, and the same is true for most employees and visitors to our facilities,” he said. “We believe this is the right thing to do and the right time to do it.”
The North Carolina-based cigarette company previously let employees light up in the office, the elevator, the hall, and anywhere else they wanted as long as they kept smoking out of the cafeteria, fitness center, and factory floors. But starting in January, the employees will have to go to designated rooms to take a smoke break.
“Indoor smoking restrictions, bottom line, are the norm today and most people expect a smoke-free business environment,” Howard explained. “We simply felt that it was the right thing to do to better align our tobacco use policies with the realities of what you’re seeing in society today.”
They will implement the new policy in phases to help employees adjust to the new rules. “It takes some time to be able to revamp and address all of our facilities,” Howard said. “As we roll through that, the phase-in of smoking restrictions will begin.”
Reynolds American still intends to let employees use smokeless tobacco products and even ecigs without any restrictions at all. Because there is no secondhand smoke, employees can vape throughout the buildings without any consequences. This could be incentive for many of the Big Tobacco employees to actually walk away from cigarettes and start vaping.
While the new company smoking ban seems hypocritical, many anti-smoking activists are thrilled. Cynthia Hallet, the executive director of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, said she believed that even Big Tobacco was feeling the pinch of health care costs related to smoking. “They’re finally recognizing that there are health consequences and costs to the business of having to provide health care to people who smoke and are exposed to second-hand smoke,” she speculated.
While Hallet is pleased to hear that Reynolds American is taking steps to insure a smoke-free workplace, she said their plan to create designated smoking areas is still troubling. This approach was largely used in the 1980’s, but it doesn’t offer complete protection from secondhand smoke.
Do you think it is hypocritical for Reynolds American to tell their employees they can no longer smoke in the office?