The Office of Personnel Management says it agrees with the goal of a smoke-free federal work place. But OPM Director Constance Horner (as reported here July 23) believes the smoking crackdown rules -- which go into effect this fall -- are too rigid and could create morale and enforcement problems.

Today's Monday Morning Quarterbacks comment on the new rules. This is what some readers have to say: "Each of the arguments raised by the Office of Personnel Management in opposition to proposed smoking restrictions is flawed.

"The 'difficult enforcement' argument is undercut by the experience in eight states and more than 100 cities and counties which have similar or even tougher restrictions. The universal experience . . . is that the restrictions work well, compliance is high, and there are negligible enforcement problems.

"To the argument that it would take 'a group of tobacco federales' to enforce the no-smoking restrictions, one need only look at San Francisco, which has the nation's toughest work place smoking law. One employee reports it takes him only one afternoon a week to handle all of the city's smoking complaints. Experience in other jurisdictions is similar.

"Although OPM argues that the proposed rules will alienate a large segment of the work force, a recent Gallup survey shows that 80 percent of all smokers support restricting work place smoking to separate sections or banning it entirely . . . .

"OPM's final argument, that the rule 'smacks of elitism,' ignores the fact that rank has many privileges, from parking to flexibility in hours; that persons with private offices have always been able to do many things others might not be able to, including listening to music, whistling or humming loudly, changing clothes, injecting insulin, etc. . . . " John F. Banzhaf III, Director, Action on Smoking and Health "OPM Director Constance Horner is exactly correct. Even those of us who wish nobody smoked, at home or at work, resent the 'high school' mentality approach the government appears to be taking. Why not give common sense and common courtesy a chance? Why not let workers and bosses work it out? I cannot imagine a situation where smokers, who are in the minority, would ignore the wishes of coworkers to provide a healthy environment." E.V., Wheaton "The problem in my federal agency isn't with the smokers. It is with the soap opera whackos. The smokers are . . . destroying their own lungs. The daytime soap opera followers are destroying their minds and making life miserable for some of their coworkers.

"Some people in my section have radios that pick up TV sound signals. They listen to the televised soap operas. One employe has a tiny TV set on her desk. The 'addicts' go from office to office all day long asking updates, commenting on who is marrying whom, who is sleeping with whom on the tube, etc. It is very disruptive, and not very productive. Supervisors for the most part seem afraid to tell their workers to get to work. Some of them are also soap opera addicts, so I can't even use my initials. Yours for a soap-free environment."