Smoking Wars

Most readers are in favor of a smoking ban in the federal workplace–including a total ban on smoking

Should smoking be totally banned in federal facilities?

It’s not an academic question. One agency has already banned smoking everywhere on its facility. ( See “Smokers Need Not Apply”)

The question stirs very strong emotions among readers as you will see from the quotes below.

Having said that, 92% of respondents in our recent poll supported banning smoking. 57% of those responding indicated they think smoking should be banned altogether in federal facilities. Another 35% said smoking should be restricted to certain areas but not banned.

8% said smoking should not be totally banned.

Those in favor of allowing some smoking in or around facilities argue that smoking is a right and they should have that freedom of choice. Several readers also said they believe they are the victims of discrimination when an agency bans smoking and argued that if smoking is banned, other undesirable activities should also be restricted.

Those against smoking ususally cited health reasons as the most common reason for banning smoking. There is also a strong social stigma against smoking, at least in the minds of some readers, who find the odor and habits of smokers offensive. There is also considerable resentment by some non-smokers about the number and length of breaks smokers take to go puff on a cigarette.

Here are some of the typical comments sent in by our readers:

A mechanical engineer from Warner Robins, GA wrote: “Smoking is a known health problem to the smoker and nonsmokers. Most smokers don’t seem to realize (or care) that they smell bad while interacting with those around them. Smokers work less because of numerous smoke breaks.”

A metereologist with NOAA in Nashville says: “If I had a loaded gun, I would not point it at anyone. If non-smokers must be in the area where smokers they are being bombarded with cancer causing smoke.

We don’t need it.”

An environmental technician with the Navy in Bremerton, WA commented: “Smoking should be banned during working hours. I don’t have a problem with those who want to smoke before work, after work, or during their lunch hour as long as it’s in a designated smoking area. Everyone knows it’s unhealthy, but smoke breaks also cut into the total available working hours per day.”

A paralegal specialist with the Social Security Administration in New Mexico writes: “It has been proven that second hand smoke affects the non-smoker. There if only makes sense that smoking be should be banned. For years non-smokers suffered in silence and were forced to inhale unwanted smoke on airlines and in restaurants. All I can is that is about time.”

A non-smoker from the State of Washington fumes: ” treat other drug addictions – stop coddling smokers. Let’s convert bus shelters to nicotine dens and place then on the far end of the parking lot, and then restrict an nicotine use to ten feet around the den.”

A business manager with the Navy in Camp Pendleton, CA says: “Federal employees waste too much time taking smoke breaks – not fair to the non-smokers who stay behind and continue working.”

And what about the smokers? Here are some of their reactions to our polling questions.

A benefits authorizer with the Social Security Administration in Jamaica, NY has this to say: “First they came from the smokers, next they’ll be coming for the coffee drinkers then the soda adicts. Eventually, they’ll be after every type of ‘anti-social’ behavior.”

A budget analyst with the VA in Prescott, AZ writes: “What about those who survive on a diet of grease and salt – fast food – or must have their steak and potatoes. These lifestyles are as detrimental to health as smoking.”

A manager with Hill AFB in Utah isn’t a smoker but he has sympathy for them: “Smokers are treated as second class citizens. While I don’t smoke, I feel for the smokers when I see them standing outside in the snow and constant windy conditions here in the Rocky Mountains.”

An employee of the Office of Personnel Management in Washington, DC comments: “We are already restricted to where we can smoke. Anything more smacks of reverse discrimination and quite frankly – I’m sick of it.”

An accountant in DFAS had this thought: “Even though I do not smoke, I see this as the first step to take away freedoms. It is easy to start with popular themes. Then it is a slippery slope, and on to other freedoms. There are many who would like to see us turn into a Stalin or Lennon (sic) type society.”

A command staff assistant with the Coast Guard in Elizabeth City, NC comments: “Are they going to ban fat people next becaue they take up too much space?”

And an accountant with DFAS is not happy with the smoking ban as he writes (in all caps): “IF GAYS, BLACKS, HISPANICS, DISABLED, AND EVERY OTHER SPECIAL INTRESTS GROUPS OR AMERICAN HAVE RIGHTS….DON’T SMOKERS?”

Thanks to all readers for taking the time to vote and send in your opinion for others to read.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47