The idea of smoking at one’s desk may seem foreign to most office workers in the United States today, but this was not always the case. Bans on smoking in offices and other workplaces have been widespread in states across the U. S. since the 1980s and 1990s. Any institutional archival collection that precedes the 1980s will inevitably hold a few tell-tale cigarette burn marks here and there. These photos represent just a sampling of some I noticed in the course of processing the Ernest Michel papers and the FJP Public Relations files.
In a memo dated July 10, 1980 from Colonel Pomrenze to Ernest Michel and Sanford Solender regarding his records management goals at that time, The Colonel acknowledges the frequency of smoking in the agency offices: “…In one office, even the Director of the Department was shocked at the conditions created by a litter of papers on the floor, on desks, etc. Additionally, this and other sites are fire hazards, since people flip cigarette ashes over the papers.”