Last week I reported that Apple denied warranty coverage on two customer's Macs because they had been exposed to smoke. Now it looks like the law may side with Apple on this one, in California anyway.
According to the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) California became the first state to declare secondhand smoke a toxic air pollutant on January 27, 2006.
Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) was listed as a Toxic Air Contaminant (TAC) "because of the numerous health effects linked to exposure including development of asthma, heart disease, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, respiratory infections in children, lung cancer and breast cancer."
While environmental tobacco smoke is certainly a toxic air contaminant, is the residue it leaves on the inside of a computer as well? I'm pretty sure that it is, but the current OEHHA language leaves that part open to interpretation.
There's one important thing to keep in mind while thinking about this issue: there's only been a couple of reports of Apple denying coverage to smokers, so it's hardly an epidemic. And who knows, the machines could have been really bad, or the tech could have been having a bad day.
I'm definitely siding with Apple on this one. If a non-smoking technician doesn't want to touch a dust and tar laden motherboard because of the potential health effects, that's their prerogative. An employee shouldn't have to work in an unsafe environment. Where Apple is wrong is by not clearly disclaiming smoke damage or residue in the warranty.
Macadam, a claimed former Apple Genius, commented on my previous post that it depends on the degree of the damage. He contends that smoking could be considered abuse under the terms of the AppleCare Protection Policy or APP (PDF version here). It clearly states that accidental damage, abuse or misuse are not covered. He argues that in an extreme case smoking could be considered abusive.
Would wearing gloves and a mask solve the problem? Or a technician who's also smoker could work on the smokey Macs when they come in for service?
Tip: Kyle McKay