I had a conversation with a smoker that felt he was being picked on for his habit. He indicated he can’t relax and have a “good smoke” because people are always clocking his breaks. I asked the employee, “How long does it take to have a good smoke?” He said a good smoke only takes 10-15 minutes at the most. My response was, “Oh ok, that’s not bad.” Then I asked, “How many cigarettes do you smoke a day?” He said, “He smoked between 3-5 cigarettes during his 10 hour shift.”
This employee was missing the valuable point: his smoking reduced his working time by 30-50 minutes per day. These 30-50 minutes did not include his already scheduled hour lunch or 15 minute break, it was just his smoke time. The other employees felt smokers received special privileges from their nicotine habits.
Nonsmoking employees are not permitted to take 3-5 unscheduled breaks, so why should smokers be allotted this time? This is and will always be the main focus of the debate. Smokers are more likely to spend more time off the clock for their habit. The resolution I mentioned to the smoking associate was to time himself to ensure he only spent 15 minutes total for his break and smoke his other cigarettes during his lunch. I feel if smokers kept their smoke breaks within their scheduled lunches and breaks, other nonsmokers would not have the proof or leverage to cry foul.
When examining a practice to see if it is fair or unfair, one would need to look at the facts only. Comparing the time allowed for smokers vs nonsmokers is clear. One side has the benefit another side does not have. With today’s big push towards the decrease of tobacco use, some companies offer discounts towards smoking cessation and will give medical coverage discounts for nonsmokers. As people in America, we have free will to make most of our choices and whatever cost, just ensure your cost is worth the investment of time, health and of course your money.