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"Does smoking produce business benefits?" The Financial Times' Michael Skapinker, a nonsmoker, thinks it might. Sure, he concedes, at one time secondhand smoke in the workplace killed at least two people a day in Great Britain. But regulations have taken care of that, and "[m]ost smokers have now internalised society’s disapproval of them." In fact, he writes, looking at smokers' reluctance even to request permission to "light up" in someone's house, "[s]mokers today are more courteous than mobile phone owners, burger munchers, headphone wearers or cyclists." So, Skapinker suggests,

It is time to consider what, apart from killing two people a day, smokers have contributed to our workplaces. They form a particular sub-culture. Forced into each other’s company they seem a more congenial bunch than most people at work.

No research appears to have been done on this, Skapinker says, but "workplace smoking groups" are extraordinarily "heterogenous," including "senior executives and security guards, marketing and IT support." They spark creativity and foster collaboration.

So, is smoking good for business? Should we give smokers back their smoking rooms, and stop exiling them to the outdoors and to private homes?

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.