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Jul31

Cigarette Smoking Workplace

I had heard thru another blog that they are trying to make Smoking a “Disiblity”. So that meaning that Smokers would have more rights in the work place. I was wondering if that would be possible? Also, do Smokers in the work place have ANY Rights at all when it comes to smoking during working hours?? I know during lunch breaks it is ok, as long as the employees are not smoking inside the building. Thanks for any response. ~~Shelli

This is a pipe dream.

Even if addiction to tobacco were ruled a disability, employees would be entitled to time off to attend a smoking cessation program — not time off to smoke. The same way an alcoholic is not given martini breaks to get drunk in the workplace, but may be given unpaid time off to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. At most, smokers would be given permission to chew nicotine gum at work, and most employers already allow that.

No, there is no right to smoke in the workplace. A very few states such as Wisconsin have laws that an employer cannot discriminate in hiring against a tobacco smoker (or anyone else who engages in a lawful behavior outside of work.) Most states do not even prevent discrimination against smokers. An employer can simply refuse to hire any worker who smokes, and it would be legal.

There is no legal right to smoke during work hours, and many employers prevent it.  There is no law that an employee must be allowed to smoke outside on his or her breaks. Any property owner can prohibit smoking on the premises, including inside parked cars in the parking lot. The employer can also require that employees remain on the premises during meal and rest breaks. This effectively means that the employee would not be able to smoke for 8 or more hours per day.

Many employers including most hospitals have such policies, that effectively make it impossible to smoke at work. If you have ever watched someone die in agony of lung cancer, you will know why hospitals take this extreme approach.

Several states have laws that eliminate smoking in the workplace and require no smoking within 10 or 15 feet of any door, window  or air duct.

We know smoking is a terrible addiction, as difficult to kick as cocaine. However, studies show that smokers are less productive than other employees. They get less work done because they spend the equivilant of 10 – 20 work days per year on smoke breaks. Plus, they take more sick days than other workers. 

Every time we address the smoking laws and HR issues, we get nasty comments. We do not hate smokers, we are just reporting on the HR laws regarding smoking in the workplace. Those laws were not meant to punish smokers or to persecute them — they were meant to protect coworkers and their unborn babies from the well-documented negative effects of second-hand smoke.

Under the law, an employer must take steps to ensure that the workplace is a safe and healthy environment for all workers. Many states have ruled that being exposed to second-hand smoke in the workplace creates an unsafe working condition, and taken steps to eliminate that hazard.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, July 31st, 2010 at 8:42 am and is filed under
Human Resources Management, Workplace Health & Safety.
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