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Archive for Sunday, April 1, 1990

SMOKING ON THE JOB

April 1, 1990

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It's been more than four years since non-smokers won the battle of the butt in city hall.

The Lawrence City Commission approved an ordinance Dec. 16, 1986, that not only limited smoking in public places but required employers to set up work areas as well.

Since that time, it's become more common to hear about smoking bans in quasi-public places, such as on airliners and trains.

Even the new Lawrence Riverfront Plaza, which opens Friday, will not allow smoking on its premises, except in designated areas of the food court.

Some might guess that more businesses would get breaks on their fire insurance rates if they banned smoking. But Ray Rathert of the Kansas Insurance Department said he wasn't aware of any insurance companies that offer businesses reduced property and casualty rates for banning smoking in their buildings.

Several of the city's largest employers contacted last week said the benefits are mostly for the employees themselves.

THE EMPLOYERS also said their smoking policies seem to be working well. And some have put even greater restrictions on smoking, or are considering it.

Hallmark Cards Inc. recently announced that as of July 1, the only places its Kansas City, Mo., employees will be allowed to smoke will be in the company's garages and outdoors.

But it's unclear whether that policy will drift over to Lawrence's Hallmark plant, which employs about 1,000 people.

Hallmark's local plant manager, John Hastings, said that although no changes were in the works for the Lawrence facilitiy, the company was reviewing what direction to take in the future.

Bill Glover, personnel director for Hallmark in Lawrence, said local plant officials will know whether any changes are in store before the summer. Glover said the plant currently follows city ordinances that require designated smoking areas.

ONE OF THE first companies in the area to ban smoking was Maupintor Inc., 1515 St. Andrews. Maupintour not only bans smoking in its facilities but will not hire people who smoke, said John Gibson, personnel director.

Gibson said the company announced the policy when it moved into its corporate headquarters and gave employees who smoked a year to get ready for the policy.

He said at the same time, Maupintour, which has 110 employees, began advertising that it would hire only non-smokers.

"We put in a grandfather clause and anybody that smokes we didn't fire them," he said. "We've still got a couple of those who still smoke."

He said there were some complaints at first.

"But we got more pluses than we did minuses. And a lot of people who smoked felt like this gave them the opportunity to smoke or cut back," he said.

JIM SCHWARTZBURG, president of Packer Plastics, 2330 Packer Rd., said his company, which has about 500 employees, has outlawed smoking for several years.

"We were one of the first in Lawrence to do it," Schwartzburg said. "We've had it for about six years. We've had several people who quit smoking because of it. I think it's reduced the number of smokers but I think we still have a fair number."

At the request of some employees, the company has made concessions, he said.

"By request, we have succumbed to a smoking room, which has outside ventilation," he said.

The World Co., which owns the Journal-World and Sunflower Cablevision, also recently outlawed smoking in its buildings.

Ralph Gage, general manager, said employees were given the opportunity to enter stop-smoking clinics offered around town, with the company picking up part of the cost. However, none of the company's nearly 225 employees took the company up on that offer, he said.

SEVERAL other large employers in the city have tightened their smoking policies.

Sallie Mae, 2000 Bluffs Dr., which has about 550 employees, put a stricter smoking policy into place about a year ago.

Phil Nowak, plant manager, said now there is no smoking in any of the work areas or in private offices. Employees may smoke only in a break room set up for smokers, he said.

Sallie Mae's original policy was to limit smoking to designated smoking areas and to closed offices, he said.

Nowak said he wasn't aware of any particular problems with the new policy.

"We're at a point now where we not only encourage non-smoking but we have sponsored a quit-smoking workshop," he said.

Nowak said he was not aware of any benefits the company would receive, such as reduced insurance costs, for having limited smoking.

NORM MARSH, plant manager at FMC Corp., Ninth and Maple, said the plant, which has 210 employees, has developed a smoking policy in the last two years.

But FMC's main motivation was to provide a clean manufacturing environment for the food-grade phosphate additives it produces.

"Most of our smoking concerns center around good manufacturing practices," Marsh said. "It's because we want the areas to be cleanly."

He said the company does not allow smoking in its operations areas. FMC does allow smoking outdoors and in designated areas of the plant and in offices. However, out of courtesy for the non-smokers, smoking is not permitted in conference rooms, he said.

Marsh said FMC's corporate offices have made changes in their operations. For example, no smoking is allowed in company offices in Chicago and Philadelphia.

ED BOWMAN, plant manager at Bendix-King, 2920 Haskell, which employs about 515 people, said the company has followed the city's smoking ordinances by designating smoking areas in the building and allowing smoking outdoors.

However, Bowman said Bendix-King initiated a new policy of outlawing smoking in office areas about three months ago, mainly as a result of complaints from non-smokers.

Bowman said it was conceivable the policy could become stricter.

"The world is progressively getting tighter and tighter on smoking and I wouldn't be surprised," he said.

Bowman said there was some grumbling when the policy was announced but no serious complaints.

Some employees used it as an excuse for quitting. And other have accepted the policy and restricted their smoking to a few times a day, he said.

"I THINK we're all hoping that employees will be healthier and hospitalization costs will go down," Bowman said. "But at this point, there's no promises of that."

Martha Engnehl, personnel director at K mart Distribution Center, 2400 Kresge Road, said the company has designated smoking areas in the warehouse. The company also has banned smoking in its offices but has lounge areas for smoking, she said.

The company, which has 550 employees, allows employees to smoke only on breaks and during lunch periods, she said.

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