If you're a smoker, working at the country's No. 2 cigarette manufacturer is probably pretty convenient—or it was pretty convenient. Reynolds American (maker of brands such as Camel and Salem) told employees yesterday that as of Jan. 1, they won't be permitted to smoke in its facilities, including in conference rooms, elevators, and hallways, the Winston-Salem Journal reports. There will be designated smoking areas that "provide a comfortable atmosphere for adult smokers," company spokesman David Howard says, and there are exceptions to the ban: e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn cigarettes, moist snuff, and a smokeless tobacco product called "snus."
Why the change? "We believe it is the right thing to do ... at the right time to do it," Howard says. "The policy change will better accommodate nonsmokers and visitors to our facilities." Howard adds that the percentage of Reynolds' 5,200 employees who smoke is close to the percentage of American adults who do so (18.1% in 2012, according to the CDC). A VP for communications for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids says that while he's glad Reynolds is finally coming (somewhat) clean about the hazards of smoking, the designated smoking areas allowed by the new policy mean there isn't "effective protection from secondhand smoke and the lung cancer and heart disease it causes." The Journal notes that company cafeterias and fitness rooms are already no-smoking zones. (Read more Camel stories.)