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OFF BEAT: Some say plan to ban scents stinks


A bill before New Hampshire’s House of Representatives would ban state employees from using perfumes, colognes or other scented products while working with the public.

Banning scents is not a silly proposal, said New Hampshire Rep. Michele Peckham, one of two Republican sponsors of H.B. 1444. Many people experience violent reactions to strong scents, and the potential ban would address a serious health issue, Rep. Peckham told the media.

Reports say some private employers already have prohibited employees from wearing scents or using air fresheners in their offices. In 2008, a Detroit city worker reportedly sued her employer under the Americans with Disabilities Act and later won a $100,000 settlement after alleging scents worn by co-workers caused her to suffer breathing problems, nausea, coughing and migraines.

Chemical sensitivities can be similar to allergic reactions suffered by people who don’t tolerate mold or pollen, allergists say.

But at least one blogger has raised several potential problems for enforcing workplace scent bans.

“What I’d like to know is: How are these policies enforced?” wrote Deborah Kotz, author of’s Daily dose blog. “Do scent monitors patrol hallways sniffing wrists, underarms and necks? And what about those strong fabric softeners that leave a scent on our clothes?”

The New Hampshire legislation includes no penalties for public-facing employees who do wear cologne or perfume.