Monday, May 14, 2012


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Should Smoking be Restricted at Intermountain Data Systems?

After the 186 Surgeon General’s report, The Health Consequences of Involuntary Smoking, the nonsmokers became more vocal about their rights to clean air in the work place. Smokers and nonsmokers heatedly debate the issue; managers are forced to resolve the controversy.

The Problem

Intermountain employs both smokers and nonsmokers. Smokers are in all departments and at all levels of authority.

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The Demand for a Smoke-Free Work Place

An organized group of nonsmokers demanded their right to a smoke-free work place. The purpose of this report is to determine whether smoking should be restricted at Intermountain.

Authorization for Report

Mrs. Catherine R. Mosman, executive vice president of Intermountain, authorized this report. Gregory and Moench, Social issues Consultants, is solely responsible for the content of this report.

The Investigation

The Investigation will examine three areas of the problem

1. The personal rights of individual workers.

. The health problems linked to involuntary smoking.

. The cost of smoking to management.

Personal Rights

The issue of personal rights is at the core of the controversy. Neither side wants to abrogate its rights.

Nonsmokers’ Personal Rights

Nonsmokers at Intermountain say that smoking infringes on their right to breath in clean air. At present, smokers have the option of not smoking; but nonsmokers do not have that option. If a coworker smokes, the nonsmoker is forced to breath the same air.

Smokers’ Personal Rights

Smokers believe they have rights, too. They do not believe they should be forced to give up their rights in favor of other people’s rights. Surveys show, however, that about 75 percent of smokers want some restrictions. Some smokers see the restriction as one way to avoid conflict with nonsmokers.

How Other Companies View the Issue

Other companies have adopted various viewpoints. Two major points of view have surfaced.

Health is a Fundamental Right

Some companies believe health is a fundamental right and that smoking is unhealthy. These companies ban smoking.

A no-smoking rule can’t be enforced

Some companies will not restrict smoking because they feel that restrictions would be ignored and would be difficult to enforce. In addition, some research findings indicate that the ill affects of involuntary smoking cannot be proved.4 So, management’s position is not to restrict smoking as long as smoking does not affect workers’ job performance.

Health Factors

Health factors are an important issue in controversy. The nonsmokers and smokers believe they are unjustified on their positions on the issue.

Nonsmokers’ Position It Makes Me Sick

Many nonsmokers at Intermountain say that exposure to smoke-filled rooms aggravates allergies, bronchitis, and similar illnesses. Nonsmokers assert they should be allowed to breath air that does not make them ill. Nonsmokers point to the following table as support for their case.5 As the table shows, office workers spend about 1 percent out of each 4-hour day near smokers. Nonsmokers believe this much exposure is overexposure.


Outdoor Office/

Location Homemaker Worker Service

Home 84.4 4.7 68.74

Outside 5.5 1.81 .47

Motor vehicle 4.8 8.67 4.6

Other indoors 6.01 1.55 4.

Near smokers .84 .75 11.7

Smokers’ Position I Need It Smokers at Intermountain assert that their emotional well-being needs to be considered, too. They say smoking calms and relaxes them. Smoking can quickly restore their emotional balance and can be one way to channel nervousness. For some smokers, smoking has become such a part of their pattern of living and working that concentration would be difficult if they were forced to give up smoking.

Many smokers have developed a physical dependency on the nicotine. Smokers say that without the stimulant, they would feel tired, irritable and distracted. They say that with nicotine in their system, they have the stamina to work long hours and reach higher performance levels.

Research Findings

Research findings support both sides of the conflict. However, most research findings support the views of nonsmokers.

Involuntary smoking is not harmful

The summary of a passive smoking symposium in 184 states that “the connection between (secondhand smoke) and lung cancer has not been scientifically established”. 6

Involuntary smoking is harmful

In 186, the Surgeon General reported, “passive smoke can cause lung cancer in nonsmokers.”7 Several studies have shown that secondhand smoke is hazardous to older people and to those with respiratory illness. Smoke can also cause allergic reactions and increase the risk of respiratory disease.8

The University of California at San Diego conducted a study that showed secondhand smoke constricts the breathing passage of nonsmokers.

Scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that 5,000 of the 10,000 lung-cancer fatalities are from nonsmokers’ exposure to smoke. More than ten other studies link passive smoking with lung cancer.10

The 186 report of the Surgeon General details effects of smoking on smokers and involuntary smokers.11

Inhalation of tobacco smoke during active cigarette smoking remains the largest single preventable cause of death and disability for the U. S. population. The health consequences of cigarette smoking and of the use of other tobacco products have been extensively documented in the 17 previous reports in the health consequences of smoking series issued by the U.S. Public Health Service. Cigarette smoking is a major cause f cancer; it is not only strongly associated with cancers of lung and respiration tract, but also causes cancers at other sites, including the pancreas and urinary bladder. It is the single greatest cause of chronic obstructive lung diseases. It causes cardiovascular diseases, including coronary heart disease, aortic aneurysm, and atherosclerotic peripheral vascular disease.

Reading involuntary smoking, the report stated

Involuntary smoking is the cause of disease, including lung cancer, in healthy nonsmokers.

The simple separation of smokers and nonsmokers within the same airspace may reduce, but does not eliminate, the exposure of nonsmokers to environmental tobacco smoke.1


Management incurs costs when employees smoke. Independent studies have examined those costs. Costs associated with personnel.

After studying absenteeism, property damage, productivity, and employee morale, Seattle University researchers report that the cost of smoking is approximately $4,600 per year per smoker. By hiring only nonsmokers, a company could save 0 to 50 percent of its costs for personnel, insurance, and maintenance, as well as cut disability payments by 75 percent.

This study is disputed by University of California at Los Angeles researcher Lewis Solmon, sho states that the research is “highly questionable” and “based on faulty logic.” He says that far from cutting costs, a nonsmokers-only hiring policy creates labor/management relations and morale problems. Losses in productivity and profit would result. Costs Associated with Equipment.

Tobacco smoke damages products such as computer chips and pharmaceuticals that are made in “clean rooms.” An hour after smoking a cigarette, the smoker emits from breathing) significantly more particulate matter than a nonsmoker. Such emissions can damage many “clean-room” products.

Smoking is banned in many rooms with sensitive electronic equipment. Today, computers are in offices, warehouses, and factories. Hard disk as well as floppy disk drives are easily damaged by smoke. Smoke leaves a coating on computer chips, causing them to run up to 0 percent hotter than normal. Costs Associaated with Remodeling.

Smoking restrictions may cost companies thousands of dollars to create separate ventilated rooms for smoking or ononsmoking workers. Businesses may have to do this to accommodate valuable employees, both smokers and nonsmokers, so that these employees’ services are not lost. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates it costs $0,000 per worker to rid the work place of tobacco tar and nicotine. Costs Associated with Lost Productivity.

One company says that smoling restrictions would cause a loss in productivity because of frequent absences from the work station for cigarette breaks. However, another estimate is that 7 percent of a smoker’s working time is wasted because of poor health and inefficiency. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENCATIONS.

On the basis of the preceding findings, Gregory and Moench make the following conclusion; 1. Health risks to nonsmoking employees exist from exposure to secondhand smoke. . “Smoking costs companies money through higher insurance premiums, absenteeism, and other factors. This is probably as true for Intermountain ass for other companies studied.

Gregory and Moench recommends that smoking restrictions be implemented at Intermountain. If management agrees with this recommendation, an implementation plan will be provided by Gregory and Moench.

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