Second-hand smoke at building entrance

Q: I work in a typical suburban office building made up of different organizations. Directly outside the entrance of our building is the “smoke-break” area. Our entrance also serves as a bus stop. About 80% of the time, there is someone out there smoking and I have to breathe in their smoke when I enter and exit the building. I am a non-smoker and want to avoid someone else’s bad choices. I’m new to the job and don’t want to be a complainer. But, second hand smoke is bad! Help!

A: Your question strikes a chord with me. I too despise being exposed to second-hand smoke. I also understand that you don’t want to be perceived as a complainer.

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A few options worth considering:
1. Often times, a management company will post a notice that smoking is not permitted within a certain distance outside of entrances because of this very dilemma. If there is a management company that runs your office building, perhaps you can stop in and make this request? My guess is that others are bothered by it also.

2. If you enjoy your job, tell your supervisor at the appropriate moment. After you have detailed why you enjoy the company and/or role, ask about the concerns of second-hand smoke outside the door. This conversation will be much easier if your supervisor is a non-smoker. And if you balance the positives with this one negative, you are minimizing your chances of being labeled a “complainer.”

3. If all else fails, is there another entrance or exit that you can use? This sounds like a weak recommendation but it would solve the problem.

Lastly, a warning — this situation is most likely going to get worse as the cold weather approaches. I can envision the diehard smokers huddling closer and closer to the door (and each other!) when the rain, sleet and snow are falling in the cold weather.

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