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I'm having issues breathing every day due to having to use an entrance that is also an assigned smoking area for my factory. I've talked to HR who said that as long as they stay 25 feet away from the door it's fine and will not work with me. Are there any other avenues I might take to address this?

Background: Factory is on non-public road, not open to general public. This is the only entrance team members are allowed to use as all other doors are truck and forklift access or emergency exits. Yes the smokers are 25 feet from the door but smoke and odor don't follow rules set by man. To get from the turnstile factory entrance to the actual door where I enter the building I usually have to pass 30-50 people spread out over 50 feet. Coming in early isn't an option as the previous shift usually still hangs around. I'm currently holding my breath as I make a break for the door but it's not ideal.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Lilienthal Feb 22 '17 at 14:43
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    I appreciate your feedback to the clarifications requested in the comments Richard but note that you can also update your question with an edit to include new information. – Lilienthal Feb 22 '17 at 14:46
  • You can easily get the full face filter/masks they wear in Asian countries to deal with airborne pollution. – NZKshatriya Feb 22 '17 at 15:23
  • @NZKshatriya in some Asian countries (e.g. Japan) face masks are mainly worn to prevent illness spreading (it's considered unpolite to spread your germs around), despite also having the beneficial effect of blocking out some nocive substances – BgrWorker Feb 22 '17 at 16:26
  • Oh well I was slightly off (and here I am not only taking Japanese, but also a fan of Japanese culture :P) – NZKshatriya Feb 22 '17 at 16:31
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I'm afraid there isn't much you can do apart from petition HR again and again, but unless they believe there is a problem (Can you prove this causes you health issues? Does it impact your work? etc.) or they are breaking any laws (E.g. Which the UK are looking to introduce, but many places have already started enforcing it) then they won't do anything.

The only other thing you can do is buy a pollution mask and wear that on the way in and out. Just make sure you buy one with a filter otherwise it won't do anything but a placebo effect.

  • It's not causing serious health issues. Just temporary choking/coughing. Generally uncomfortable for non-smokers due to density. – Richard Robertson Feb 22 '17 at 7:36
  • @RichardRobertson. Unfortunately, I agree. If management cannot do anything about it, then you might just have to protect yourself yourself. I feel ya :/. – Teacher KSHuang Feb 22 '17 at 8:47
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There are a few things you can do:

Complaining to HR again
If you document well enough your problems with those smokers, HR may listen to you, especially if you show it causes you health issues. This however is not guaranteed to work as they already said no, and insisting may be seen as annoying.
Even if you succeed, this might not grant you popularity around your workplace, unless a lot more people are as concerned as you are.

Wearing a facemask
This may solve your immediate issue (coughing and choking), however it may be seen as weird, or even as an outright passive-aggressive act against smokers.

Changing your schedule
Are those smokers there 24/7? You could just plan to arrive/leave a few minutes earlier/later than them and, as a bonus, be praised for being a hard worker.

Considering the edits you made, I'd try looking for more people with the same problem (you seem to work in a big factory), and collectively complain to HR. Suggest they designate a secondary entrance, a smaller area for smoking so you can get to the entrance without passing through it, or that they build a smoking room inside the main building.

Considering the quantity of people smoking, this may indeed cause health concerns on the long run.

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    Unless you're a wizard, you can't really control if people consider wearing a face mask passive-aggressive or not. Worry about your own comfort - as long as you're okay with becoming "that guy who wears a face mask" – sleddog Feb 22 '17 at 14:02
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    I don't see how a mask is passive-aggressive. To OP the smokers are being actively-aggressive. If they laugh or point at OP, a simple statement like "I don't want to get cancer" will shut them up. – Alic Feb 22 '17 at 14:37
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    @Alic I was considering all possible reactions. Wearing a mask may be interpreted as a silent "you smell awful and I don't want to mix with you". This would obviously be the most extreme interpretation, and most people will understand that OP just doesn't like/suffers from cigarette smoke – BgrWorker Feb 22 '17 at 14:43

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