Smokers are people too, aren’t they?

People who smoke at work are definitely in the minority. Agency and local rules limit smoking areas. Often they are close to the entrance to the building. This sometimes irks the smokers, and also nonsmokers, who must pass close to them.

A recent column on the subject prompted a lot of response. Most of it was from people who think the smokers should be moved even further away. Or not given time off during the workday to smoke. But there are people who say smoking is no worse a vice than overeating, or people who text during critical meetings or do unofficial (and sometimes naughty) things on their government computers. Whether you agree or not, check out what the other half thinks:

  • “I thought for quite a bit on your column about smoking on federal grounds. First, I am old enough to remember having a smoke, a donut, a cup of coffee, and a cage full of laboratory rats ready for treatment lined up on one bench.

    I don’t understand why there can’t be some small area for smokers on federal property. In driving the smokers out or underground, it leads to less productivity. I work in a facility that is posted no tobacco. So people will get into their cars and drive off campus, this takes more time and wastes more energy. As for the idea that standing outside a building and smoking is totally wasted time, that is BS. That is where I save taxpayer money. I had my little informal network of people from those that take out the trash to some pretty high ranking scientists and administrators. If I needed to get a locksmith, or find an expensive, rare piece of scientific equipment, or find someone from another center or group I could find it through my smoking network. When I ran into an electrical problem, it took me a quick trip to a hardware store on the way home ($12.50) and I was fixed the next day. An identical electrical problem occurred a few years later, it took the other individual over 9 months (and likely thousands of dollars as it had to go out to bid for a contract to fix the issue) going through conventional channels.

    “Others have a right not to breath my smoke, that’s fine. But I wonder about the errosion of individual rights and freedom. It appears we are evolving to a “nanny state”, and we will be told what we can and can’t do. I wonder when the fat people will be banned from the cafeteria.”
    a smokin’ Fed

  • “As a federal employee and a smoker, I remember having a big green (government-issued) ash tray on my desk in the Pentagon. Yes, times have changed and probably for the better in this area. I do not mind leaving the building to smoke, but I do resent being made to walk about 1/4 mile to a bus stop enclosure (provided for this purpose) with no shade or weather protection. I take two smoke breaks a day (as allowed by regulation, a 30-minute lunch and two 15- minute breaks per day) and get a lot of work-related communication done during this time. More often than not, we talk about ongoing projects and share ideas. This is an invaluable time for communication that might not otherwise happen between SES all the way to Admin personnel. My only gripe is that some smokers don’t field strip their butts and tend to be dirty in their disposal habits. I try to set the example with this. I must admit that offices smell much better since we moved outside but please, please, please promote respect for those of us that choose to smoke (especially since we are the group that has had to adjust to changing times).” — Smoker
  • “Workers at Social Security national headquarters in Woodlawn, Md., have been notified that a new Union-Management agreement was reached whereby smoking would be banned from the entire campus. This is a sprawling property, and just reaching the property line can be quite a hike — especially for those with reduced lung-power. The smokers are fuming (no pun intended) mad, and many die-hards (again no pun intended) are protesting the big-brother treatment. I’m not a smoker, and never enjoyed running the gauntlet through the haze near the entrances, but the announcement on a Friday of an edict being implemented on the following Monday does seem a bit unreasonable. At least give the crusty-lunged a fighting chance to ease into a healthier lifestyle instead of spending their time figuring out how/when/where to get that next nicotine fix.” — Smoking Mad

On The Road Again

I’ll be out of town for the next two weeks, first at the huge Federal Dispute Resolution conference, which opens Monday in San Antonio, then off to the National Association of Active and Retired Federal Employees convention in Reno-Sparks, Nev. I hope to see some of you at one or the other (maybe both). If not, I’ll be back (like Congress) after Labor Day.


By Jack Moore and Amanda Iacone

China’s first emperor, whose burial palace is surrounded by terracotta warriors, is believed to have been buried with an additional layer of protection for the afterlife: a moat of mercury allegedly encircles the central burial chamber. That mercury has given archeologists a good excuse not to push the Chinese government to grant permission to excavate the tomb.

You can read more about the emperor, his obsession with mercury and his terracotta soldiers at


Pentagon IG details ‘multiple forms of misconduct’ by AFRICOM general
The former commander of U.S. Africa Command engaged in “multiple forms of misconduct” related to his use of government aircraft, misused and wasted government funds on parties and gifts and abused his authority during his four- year tenure as the command’s first leader, a Defense Department Inspector General’s report alleges.

NY FBI field office boss, highest woman, retiring
The head of the New York FBI office and the highest-ranking female U.S. law enforcement officer in the field is retiring this month after 25 years of service with the bureau.

GSA opens public portal to governmentwide social media registry
The GSA has put together a one-stop shop for federal agencies, elected officials (but not campaign accounts) and programs that manage official LinkedIn pages, Meetup groups or Twitter feeds so the public can now verify whether a Google+ page is legit and whether the IRS really is on Pinterest.

IT budget facing 10 percent cut, would shrink to 8-year low
Agencies should target six types of technology projects to account for the 10 percent cut to their budget the White House is calling for in fiscal 2014. These reductions would bring total spending on technology to the lowest levels in eight years.