The second largest tobacco producer in the United States, Reynolds American, said yesterday it will ban smoking in all indoor office spaces, bowing to smoke-free social norms.

The manufacturer of Pall Mall and Camel cigarettes said starting from 1 January 2015 smoking cigarettes, cigars and pipes in conference rooms and elevators will be prohibited.

Designated smoking rooms will be opened by 2016 at the company's headquarters in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and at its two other offices in Tennessee and New Mexico.

Until then, employees can still light up in hallways and in closed offices.

The company said the new regulations respect the rights of smokers and non-smokers alike, and make more sense in an increasingly smoke-free world. 

E-cigarettes and chewing tobacco are still permitted.

Smoking is already banned in the company's production factories, cafeterias and fitness centres, and the move to extend the no-smoking zone was in line with the public standards, according to Mr Howard.  

"We are simply better aligning our tobacco use policies with the realities of what we're seeing in the general public today," he said.

Around 20% of Reynolds American employees smoke, the spokesman noted.

Smoking is banned in most public spaces in North Carolina, including bars and restaurants, but Reynolds America's offices are exempt from the law, Reynolds said.