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NO 'IF'S, MAYBE'S, OR BUTTS' GTE CALIFORNIA GOES SMOKE FREE

 THOUSAND OAKS, Calif., July 1 /PRNewswire/ -- GTE's 14,400 telephone employees in California will start breathing easier starting July 1, thanks to a new policy that prohibits smoking in all company buildings and vehicles.
 The new smoke-free policy bans smoking in all 680 GTE California buildings. In addition to employees and visitors, the policy applies to contractors who install, operate, maintain and repair GTE Telephone Operations equipment, facilities and services, and will be in effect 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
 "The well-being of our team here at GTE is of utmost importance," said Larry Sparrow, GTE West Area president. "The intent of this policy is to help maintain a safe, healthful and efficient working environment for all employees."
 Smoking will be permitted in certain designated outside areas away from building entrances and exits. GTE provides cessation information, consultation and referral services to employees and their spouses who wish to quit smoking.
 "Research indicates that absenteeism is greater for employees who smoke than for those who do not," said Marita Cunningham, manager of GTE's Health Program Development. "In addition, a significant number of all absences from work are due to smoking-related illnesses."
 "Most smokers here do not seem upset with this decision," said Sue Gesler, a GTE employee who smokes. "Smoke-free workplaces seem to be the going trend among businesses. I have no problem with it as long as there will be outside areas where smoking is permitted."
 The company had designated smoking areas indoors since 1983. Smoking in these areas will be prohibited after July 1.
 An employee survey conducted among smoking and non-smoking employees revealed employee concern about smoking in company buildings. The concern prompted the decision to make GTE buildings completely smoke- free.
 "Due to mounting evidence of the harmful effects of second-hand smoke, including January's Environmental Protection Agency report declaring passive smoke a Group A carcinogen," Cunningham said, "it became clear that smoking is no longer just a social issue, but a health issue as well.
 "GTE takes a proactive approach to supporting overall employee health," she said, "Our decision to go smoke-free is a response to employees' concerns and needs."
 GTE California provides local telephone service to more than 3 million customers, mostly in Southern California.
 -0- 6/1/93
 /CONTACT: Larry Cox of GTE California, 800-227-5556/


CO: GTE California ST: California IN: TLS SU:

EH-JB -- LA024 -- 7799 07/01/93 14:00 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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