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Old 04-15-2008, 10:45 PM   #1
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Question Smoke on Clothes and a New Employee - Advice Needed

I work as a graphic designer and we just hired someone to help me and technically I am her supervisor. When she came in to interview she did not smell of cigarette smoke but today was her first day and she did. The smell on her clothes was so faint that no one else could smell it except me. I have had asthma for about 15 years now. It was never very bad until I got pneumonia about 4 years ago. Since then it has gotten increasingly worse. Last year my doctor put me on Advair and I went from 12-16 asthma attacks a day and getting one cold upon another to very controlled asthma and very rare asthma attacks. I credit this change to the Advair and avoiding second hand smoke including having to leave places with people whose clothes smell like smoke.

I guess what I'm wondering about is what I can ask of this new employee as far as her smoking goes? She has to sit about 8 feet away from me and today I had allergy like symptoms including itchy eyes and nose along with that heavy feeling in my lungs that is a sign an asthma attack is coming and she was only there 3 hours. There will be days she will be working 8 hours along side me. My boss actually had to change his cologne because it bothered my asthma and that was before it was bad but I know quiting smoking is a lot more difficult than that. She did say she wanted to quit but I didn't get into if this is something she was actively working on. I know if she goes outside for a smoke break and comes back in I will have an attack. What is reasonable for me? Has anyone else had to deal with a similar situation? I live in Wisconsin if that makes any difference. I'd appreciate any help you can offer.

 
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Old 04-16-2008, 01:16 PM   #2
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Re: Smoke on Clothes and a New Employee - Advice Needed

Have you tried any over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines (allergy drugs)? I have not tried them for smoke specifically, but it would be worth a shot to ask your doctor about them.
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Old 04-17-2008, 12:57 PM   #3
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Re: Smoke on Clothes and a New Employee - Advice Needed

Hello!

If your Boss was willing to change his cologne to help - I think a co-worker (even a new one) might be willing as well. I know that quitting smoking is not easy - but that is not what you are asking.

Perhaps you could explain your sensitivity and ask if he or she would be willing to wait until after they are off of work to smoke? Since they are new - and technically working FOR you - this might go over pretty well.

I know how you feel - smoke and strong smells are HUGE triggers for me. My own MOTHER will not stop smoking or wearing perfume (not even for a little while so that we can spend time together) so I have not been able to be around her in over 3 months. I felt bad about it at first - but you know what?? Being able to BREATH and FEEL GOOD is AS IMPORTANT to me as SMOKING is to her!

So, I say have the conversation - it cannot hurt. If the person is not willing then I would definitely ask your Dr. about possible suggestions. My CO-Worker was AWESOME!! She stopped wearing perfume just for me (we work in a small office just the two of us and the boss) and was VERY understanding.

Good luck to you!

PS: Just one little thing to add -up on my soap box for a moment!! I understand that smoking is a personal choice - HOWEVER for those of us with BREATHING problems - we have NO CHOICE when someone smokes around us - we HAVE to breath in their SECOND HAND SMOKE?? What choice do we get in that??? -- NONE! I think a little consideration for others is as important as the freedom to do what you want!

Thanks for listening!!

Vanessa

Last edited by Vanessa74; 04-17-2008 at 12:59 PM.

 
Old 04-18-2008, 08:57 AM   #4
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Re: Smoke on Clothes and a New Employee - Advice Needed

If it was so faint, she may have picked it up from someone else. You might just want to say - I don't know if you realize that there is a faint odor of cigarette smoke in your clothing. If she smokes, she'll say so...and you can explain your situation. If she doesn't smoke,she'll be glad to know that she's picked it up somewhere.

 
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