Thursday, October 4, 2012

Smoking and the workplace

Older readers of our blog will probably remember the days when smoking was just an inescapable fact of everyday life. people smoked on the bus, at their desk in the office - and even in shops. It's incredible to think back to those days now. And it's a fair bet that even if a modern day smoker was to travel back in time to the 1960s or 70s, even they would find the sheer prevalance of smoking in enclosed public spaces to be excessive.

Of course, as time passed, bit by bit smoking was eradicated. Smokers in offices by the mid 1980s were only allowed to indulge the habit in a closed off room in the building. Needless to say, if you ever had to enter one of these rooms to speak to someone within, the air was heavy with cigarette smoke - a fug, a cloud - rendering the air almost opaque.

Around the same time, a lot of bus companies made the top deck the only smoking area. And in time, offices would only allow staff to smoke out in the street, off the premises. And smoking was banned on public transport. And smoking in public buildings was finally stubbed out in the middle of the last decade when it was prohibited in bars and restaurants.

And how quickly we got used to it. Nobody - not even smokers themselves (or none that I've met, at any rate) - ever gets nostalgic about the old days.

This week brings news of a development from the US, where -never mind smoking being banned - where one city has made the decision not to employ smokers, in an effort to cut spending on health insurance. This news follows that of another authority which still hires smokers but requires them to pay towards the raised insurance premium.

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