Americana: Clearing the Air

Gardiner Hempel, 48, president of Speedcall Corp., a small electronics firm in Hayward, Calif., was tired of going home each evening reeking of tobacco smoke. A ban on smoking at the plant seemed too harsh a step. So, a year ago, he offered his 36 employees a $7-a-week bonus for not puffing on the job. To qualify, they have to put their names on a weekly sign-up sheet hanging beneath a poster that reads: SMOKERS ARE O.K. NON-SMOKERS ARE O.K.-ER.

One name on the list each week is that of Hempel, who used to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day. Now...

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