WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The evolution of smoke-free corporate workplaces may have its “hell freezes over” moment at the start of 2015, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.
That’s when Reynolds American Inc. and its subsidiaries launch a no-smoking policy within its facilities outside of designated areas currently being developed. Employees were told of the changes today.
That means no more smoking of traditional cigarettes, cigars and pipes at the desk, in conference rooms, elevators and in hallways, spokesman David Howard said. The policy applies to all employees, he said.
As of Jan. 1, what will remain permissible in most indoor areas are electronic cigarettes, heat-not-burn cigarettes, such as the Eclipse brand, moist snuff and snus.
“We will restrict traditional smoking to the designated areas as they are put together in 2015 and 2016,” Howard said.
“The bottom line is that we believe it is the right thing to do, updating our tobacco usage policies, at the right time to do it. The policy change will better accommodate nonsmokers and visitors to our facilities.”
Reynolds already made its downtown Winston-Salem headquarters smokefree on the day of its annual shareholder meeting, following requests from attendees. There also has been no smoking on the manufacturing floor, and in company cafeterias and fitness rooms.
“I don’t think you should smoke in any building,” Bridgette Ware said. “They should have done it a long time ago.”
“It is long overdue,” said Robert Scott. “It’s not healthy.”
Even though Reynolds is the No. 2 U.S. cigarette manufacturer, Howard said its overall workforce of 5,200 “closely mirrors” the percentage of adults (20 percent) who smoke in the United States.
“The use of tobacco products or cigarettes by our employees is pretty close to in line with what you see out in the general public,” Howard said.
“Recognizing that indoor smoking restrictions are the norm today, and most people expect a smokefree workplace environment, we believe we are better aligning our tobacco use policies with those we’re seeing in the general public.”
Howard said the designated smoking areas are expected “to provide a comfortable atmosphere for adult smokers.”
Part of the timing for the policy change is the expanded portfolio of non-smoking products made by Reynolds, Howard said. For example, Susan Cameron, Reynolds’ chief executive, has made public her preference for consuming Eclipse and Reynolds’ e-cig brand, Vuse.
Howard said the policy would not affect Lorillard Inc. facilities.
Reynolds is pursuing federal regulatory approval for its $27.4 billion offer for Lorillard. Cameron said the companies are hopeful of getting Federal Trade Commission approval on the deal in the first half of 2015.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, perhaps the most vocal of the nation’s anti-tobacco groups, chose not to comment about the Reynolds policy change.