Tackling a burning issue

It’s commonplace these days, groups of employees huddled outside in the cold, taking quick drags on their cigarettes to circumvent no smoking policies, or standing around during the hot summer, enjoying long, lazy smoke breaks.

But that strange new enclosed structure outside a neighboring office building wasn’t there until recently, and suddenly, instead of throngs of people lounging in the doorway, you notice the new edifice is packed with smokers, freely gabbing and puffing away.

It’s not your imagination. It’s a smoking shelter. Over the past 10 years, they’ve been popping up with greater regularity across the U.S., mostly on the East and West coasts. Approximately 2,500 shelters have been put up by more than 1,200 companies of all sizes, and although we’ve yet to see one in Northeast Ohio that doesn’t mean they’re not around.

In principle, the idea seems good: provide smokers with an enclosed shelter so that they can enjoy their cigarettes without having to endure the harsh elements. But it leaves us with one question: What happens when the shelter is packed with people, fills up with smoke and leaves the smokers smelling like, well, smokers?