In a world where smoking is prohibited in almost all indoor public places, Reynolds American continued to allow their employees to light up at the office. But now that is changing. In the ultimate irony, the company that makes Camel and Pall Mall cigarettes is telling their employees that they can’t use their own products at work anymore. While he stopped short of saying it was for health purposes, spokesman David Howard admitted that it was just not smart to let people smoke in the office anymore.
Howard said the policy was changed to be courteous to employees and visitors that are not smokers. “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.”
Reynolds American is based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Until the recent ban on workplace smoking, they allowed employees to smoke anywhere on the premises with the exception of the cafeteria, fitness center, and factory floor. Howard said that the policy was changed to fit the normal expectations seen in all American workplaces. “Indoor smoking restrictions, bottom line, are the norm today and most people expect a smoke-free business environment,” he 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.”
Starting at the beginning on 2015, employees can no longer puff on a cigarette as they rid up the elevator or sit in conference rooms for meetings. Instead, the tobacco giant will create a few designation rooms where smoking is allowed for their employees that need a quick cigarette break. “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.”
Interestingly, Reynolds American said employees will still be free to use smokeless tobacco products and electronic cigarettes without any restrictions. Recently, the company added Vuse ecigs to its line of products, marking the first tobacco-free product from the brand.
Public health officials and anti-smoking activists were pleasantly surprised to hear of the upcoming changes at Reynolds American. Cynthia Hallet, the executive director of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, said that maybe the company finally started feeling the toll of health care expenses. “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. However, she also criticized the company for continuing to allow indoor smoking in designated rooms, pointing out that this indoor ban is similar to those implemented by most workplaces in the 1980’s.
Do you think tobacco companies should have no smoking policies in the workplace or is this the ultimate hypocrisy?