The building is nearly all leased, although it is not clear how big a role the smoking ban played in that. Most buildings in the central part of the county are near capacity because there has been little construction there lately.
Most city ordinances around the nation already ban smoking in a building's public areas, such as the lobby and elevators.
But old habits die hard, especially when the habit is smoking. Consider the Chicago offices where employers themselves have banned smoking: "A lot of people still troop outside to smoke, even in winter," says David Tropp, the property manager. "And our winters are a lot harsher than Southern California's."
At Lakeshore Tower, the designated smoking area is 60 feet or so from the building. But employees who smoke prefer a spot that's only half that far away, which annoys the building's management.
Grumbles Bill Kearns, the executive in charge of the building: "I go around picking up cigarette butts every morning."
Smoking in the Workplace * Smokers have a 33% to 45% higher absenteeism rate than nonsmokers. * The average smoker costs a company $134 per year in absenteeism. * Annual excess insurance costs per smoker are estimated at more than $460. * Costs in productivity account for another $279 per year. * Lung cancer costs U.S. private industry an estimated $1.3 billion annually. * The potential dollar savings to U.S. private industry for lung cancer, if all employees were to stop smoking, is estimated at $927 million annually. * The average smoker of a pack or more each day, over a lifetime, will cost an employer $1,048 per year. \o7 Source: American Cancer Society\f7
Moving Toward the Smoke-Free Office The Orange County Health Care Agency's tobacco use prevention program this summer surveyed companies with 500 or more employees. The following are partial results in the ongoing survey. 1. Which of the following best describes your company's smoking regulation policy? The company is in the process of developing a policy: 7% Smoking is allowed in designated areas only: 42% Smoking is not permitted anywhere in the facility: 51% The company does not have a smoking policy: 0% 2. Does your company provide assistance to employees who wish to stop smoking? Unsure: 4% No: 29% Yes: 67% Source: American Cancer Society Researched by DALLAS M. JACKSON / Los Angeles Times