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The following sample policies were excerpted from The Book of Company Policies, published by HR Specialist, © 2007. Edit for your organization's purposes.

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Sample Policy 1:  

“We are a nonsmoking shop and office. If anyone needs to have a cigarette, they may go out to the street as long as it doesn’t interfere with work.”

Sample Policy 2:

“Employees may smoke only on breaks and only in designated smoking areas. No smoking is allowed at workstations or in restrooms.” 

Sample Policy 3: 

“XYZ is committed to enforcing the provisions of applicable local, state and federal law. Accordingly, XYZ’s policy on smoking is as follows:

  • Smoking is prohibited in hallways, restrooms, the reception area, work cubicles in rooms or areas containing photocopying or other office equipment used in common by employees and in XYZ vehicles occupied by more than one person, unless all occupants of such vehicles agree that smoking may be permitted.
  • Smoking is prohibited in conference rooms.
  • Smoking is permitted in enclosed offices, with the door closed, if all occupants of the office consent.

“Department directors, managers and supervisors are responsible for seeing that this policy is implemented smoothly. Any complaints or conflicts should be directed first to them before notifying the executive director. In situations where the preferences of smokers and nonsmokers are in direct conflict, the rights of the nonsmoker will prevail. Continued, intentional noncompliance with this policy will subject employees to disciplinary action up to immediate termination.”

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WHAT'S AT ISSUE:

Whatever your personal feelings about smoking, increasing government regulation plus ever-growing public concern for protecting nonsmokers from secondhand smoke make smoking policies imperative for businesses with even a single employee. Some issues to consider when drafting your policy:

Health costs. Studies show that smoking-related illnesses raise employers’ health care costs and lower productivity. Employers could save in medical costs, disability, sick days, lost productivity and death benefits by banning smoking in the workplace. The study found that such bans were the most effective way to get workers to kick the habit.

Workplace harmony. Secondhand smoke is a hot-button issue for nonsmokers. They’re no longer willing to stand (or sit) by quietly while their colleagues indulge their habit. Although smokers may resent being made pariahs, most accept the findings that smoking is bad for their health and may hurt nonsmokers as well.

The law. A growing number of states and localities restrict smoking in the workplace. In addition, if your company is large enough to be covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act, you may have to accommodate employees with severe respiratory ailments by providing a smoke-free work environment.

Employee privacy. In states and localities without smoking ordinances, you’re free to dictate workplace smoking behavior, although you might be held liable for not responding to nonsmokers’ health concerns if, because of your policy, they are exposed to secondhand smoke.

Caution: More than 30 states and the District of Columbia have so-called “smokers’ rights” laws. Under these statutes employers cannot prohibit the use of tobacco outside the workplace as a condition of employment. However, even in these states, an employer can require a worker to comply with company rules and policies concerning tobacco use while on site and/or during working hours. Be sure to read any statute carefully as it may not apply to your company. In some states the prohibitions don’t apply to certain organizations, such as religious entities, private employers and organizations whose primary purpose is to discourage the use of tobacco products.

POLICY CONSIDERATIONS:

You’ll want to spell out specifically where and when (if at all) employees may smoke on your premises. Base your policy on your major goals and concerns:

 

  • Do any state or local ordinances mandate a smoke-free workplace or require you to provide smoke-free work areas for employees who request them? Then ban or restrict smoking accordingly. Your state or local health department can fill you in on the laws applicable to your business.
  • Are you primarily looking to cut absenteeism and health care costs? Then a ban on smoking will probably serve you best.
  • Do you simply want to make both smokers and nonsmokers comfortable to foster workplace harmony? Then restrict smoking to areas where nonsmokers aren’t exposed to it, such as private, enclosed offices or enclosed smoking areas with separate ventilation systems.

 

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