Oct 23 11:59 PM

Cigarette maker bans smoking at company HQ

Step outside: Reynolds American, manufacturers of Camel cigarettes, have banned smoking inside its offices.
Jim. R. Bounds / Bloomberg / Getty Images

Reynolds American, the maker of Camel cigarettes, is living up to its catchy “I’d walk a mile for a Camel” slogan.

That’s because employees of the nation’s second largest tobacco company will no longer be able to light up at the office, forcing them to go outside or to congregate in designated smoking areas, according to The Associated Press.

At the beginning of next year, employees at the company’s headquarters in Winston-Salem, North Carolina will be banned from smoking cigarettes, cigars or pipes at their desks or in offices, conference rooms, hallways and elevators, the AP said.

Smoking was already banned at the company’s factories, cafeterias and — fittingly — fitness centers.

Reynolds will build separate, indoor smoking areas for those who still want to light up at work, according to The New York Times, after which time the smoking ban will officially begin.

"We believe it's the right thing to do and the right time to do it because updating our tobacco use policies will better accommodate both non-smokers and smokers who work in and visit our facilities," Howard told the AP. "We're just better aligning our tobacco use policies with the realities of what you're seeing in society today."

However, in keeping with the trend that is sweeping the bearded masses in hip coastal enclaves, Reynolds will allow smokeless tobacco products such as electronic cigarettes to be used indoors, according to the AP. It will also allow “moist snuff” and something called “snus,” a finely milled tobacco, the AP said, though it did not report whether that move was actually considered a punishment.

The AP said that about 18 percent of Reynolds’ 5,200 employees smoke, which is roughly equivalent to the smoking rate in the U.S. The smoking rate has plummeted, down from about 42 percent in 1964, the year of the landmark surgeon general’s report that first warned Americans of the dangers of smoking.

The U.S. hasn’t enacted a federal indoor smoking ban, instead leaving it up to individual states to create their own legislation. While 28 states have banned smoking in enclosed public places like bars and restaurants, some do still allow it in workplaces. Fourteen states don’t have any statewide smoke-free laws on the books at all, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Altria Group, corporate parent of Phillip Morris, the nation’s largest tobacco company, had previously banned smoking in its factories, hallways and elevators, but the cigarette maker had long ago pinned the irony meter.

That’s because at least four actors who have played the Marlboro Man, the weathered but ruggedly handsome cowboy featured in print and TV ads for Phillip-Morris’ Marlboro brand cigarettes, have died of smoking-related illnesses, according to The Los Angeles Times.

The last was 72-year-old Eric Lawson, who played the Marlboro Man in print ads from 1978 to 1981 and died in January, the newspaper said.

"He knew the cigarettes had a hold on him," his wife, Susan Lawson, told the AP. "He knew, yet he still couldn't stop."

Here’s hoping employees of Reynolds American who aren’t up for the long walk to new designated smoking areas have an easier time of it.

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