The right of non-smokers to breathe clean air take precedence over the rights of smokers, according to the Davis County Health Department, which said it stands ready to help non-smokers assert that right.
In the case of smoking in the work area, the department said, "One adage holds true: One person's right ends where another's nose begins."Studies show secondhand smoke poses a major health risk, besides being discomforting and irritating to non-smokers, according Todd Thompson, a department health promotion technician. Effects include eye and nasal passage irritation, resulting in coughing or headaches.
Exposure to a smoke-filled environment can aggravate symptoms of existing conditions such as asthma and coronary heart diseases, Thompson said.
"Many people have reservations about openly voicing their complaints about smoking, particularly when the offender is in an administrative position. Utah law prohibits discrimination against employees who express concern about smoke pollution at the work site.
"However, an employee who wishes to remain anonymous may contact the health department, which will then work with the employer to create a viable solution," Thompson said.
The state's Indoor Clean Air Act mandates that unless an employer has designated the workplace as "no smoking," the employer is responsible to designate appropriate smoking areas. Those areas cannot include restrooms, hallways, elevators, stairwells, or other common traffic areas.
The law also requires an employer to take appropriate action when a worker requests a separate work area because of tobacco smoke exposure, Thompson said.
Employers or workers with questions about the law or who wish more information may contact Thompson at the Davis County Health Department, 451-3322.