Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online
October 2012 Cleanthoughts

Employee Smoke Breaks

October 1, 2012

I am not a habitual smoker, so I must admit that I feel somewhat indignant about those who take frequent breaks to inhale nicotine-laced tobacco, tar and other carbon byproducts.

To me, smokers receive extra breaks each day simply for having an unhealthy habit.

Aside from that, there is the lingering smell, the secondhand smoke, the improperly discarded cigarette butts — I could go on for quite some time.

But, for better or worse, the choice to pick up the habit of smoking is a personal decision and one that is popular amongst all age groups in America and around the world.

So, since it is impossible to deny the existence of the widespread practice of smoking, I am curious as to how others address it.

Depending on your setting — an industrial facility, for example — smoking might not be frowned upon with any severity and could be a habitual activity with many employees.

However, if you are a custodial or maintenance professional in an educational facility, smoking can be both frowned upon and grounds for a citation if you light up in a restricted area.

Each state has unique regulations regarding smoking, and every company or organization has particularities as to what is socially acceptable in terms of employee activity.

I know that, in the state of New York, smokers must stand at least 50 feet from any entrance — a restriction I see heeded by few.

It could also be possible that certain types of cigarettes or other smoking apparatuses are not welcomed in your buildings or on your grounds; maybe traditional cigarettes are fine, but cloves, cigars and pipes are circumscribed.

Smoking can be a very touchy subject that becomes more complicated when staffs are comprised of a mixture of smokers and nonsmokers.

To further add complexity to the situation, if a supervisor or manager is a smoker, he or she may be inclined to give increased leeway to subordinate smokers.

Conversely, smokers may find themselves at the short end of the stick if their superior is smoke-free.

What’s Your Policy?

  1. How often do you allow workers to grab a quick puff and “calm their nerves?”
  2. Do you have any standard practices at your business or organization regarding the length and frequency of smoke breaks?
  3. Are your employees monitored closely enough to know how often they are picking up their packs and squeezing in that extra break?
  4. Are your employees required to clock in and out for their smoke breaks?